Pineapple Express Review
“You obviously don’t get it” will ring the bleating chorus of drug-addled zealots at the suggestion of Pineapple Express being anything less than an instant comedy classic. This is a ridiculous argument for what is supposed to a mainstream comedy; obviously some of the esoteric stoner dialogue is going to be impenetrable to the outsider, but this is clearly a film created to appeal to a wide audience. Perhaps members of mafia sit around nodding knowingly at the exploits of Tony Soprano but the experience of the layperson is not diminished by any lack of Mafioso experience. Brilliant cinema takes the story of unique individuals and allows us to empathise with the (admittedly extreme) human condition which they experience. Pineapple Express simply shows us that its writers don't know the difference between endearing character defects and characters so defective that they are morally abhorrent.
Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) witnesses a drug related killing but leaves behind the evidence of his presence in the form of an extremely rare form of cannabis known as Pineapple Express. This evidence leads his pursuers back to his dealer, Saul Silver (James Franco), forcing the two of them to go on the run to avoid being killed. Along the way, they encounter Dale’s girlfriend, Saul’s grandmother and another dealer, Red (Danny R. McBride). Even for a teen comedy, the plot of this film is what you could most generously describe as minimalist.
But is it really fair to expect a minimalist comedy about drugs to be any more than disposable entertainment which preaches to the converted? I would say yes, since Withnail & I is probably the funniest British film ever made. Sadly, Pineapple Express won't even be the funniest film you’ll see this week. It’s a film that simply throws as much drug related terminology into the dialogue as possible and hopes that the audience will be suitably titillated at its very mention. “He just said bong!” The exact same approach is used for showing the process of drug taking... “Oh, look he’s just smoked a big joint and now he’s barely able to control a motor vehicle”. Hilarious. Are stoners so used to talking utter drivel that when a character manages to string together an entire sentence of passable intelligibility it’s considered hilarious? It would appear so from how certain audience members at the showing I attended reacted to a character uttering the words “bear arms”.
It’s also a mean spirited film that considers anything or anyone not important to its protagonists' goals and desires to be entirely disposable. No innocent bystanders are killed during the course of the film for one simple reason: the main characters simply wouldn’t care and would be exposed as the self obsessed wastes of space that they undeniably are. This film presents a lifestyle so egocentrically destructive that it managed to shift my opinion from a vague pitying of stoners to an openly hostile desire to shout constantly at them until they agree to stop inhaling chemicals which are slowly but surely turning them into the type of idiots who will giggle constantly at inane stoner films such as this.
The problem is of course that Pineapple Express isn’t supposed to be an anti drugs’ film. The film does attempt to show the consequences of drug-taking such as a relationship breakdown and numerous brushes with the law. However, despite the characters' behaviour remaining wilfully thoughtless for the course of the film, they manage to overcome all such temporary problems with the film-makers basically saying: “Hey kids take drugs! There are absolutely no consequences whatsoever and you’ll act really cool whilst you’re doing it”. The utterly contemptible morals of Pineapple Express genuinely made me lose some faith in humanity, much more so than any serial killer or war film I’ve seen. A word to the wise: you should henceforth treat anyone who laughs constantly for the duration of Pineapple Express with extreme caution and under no circumstances let them drive you home from the cinema.