Pineapple Express is nowhere near as edgy, unique or funny as it thinks it is, writes Paul Fennessy.
After enjoying considerable success with likeable comedies such as Superbad and Knocked Up, Judd Apatow and his onscreen stand-in Seth Rogen return to familiar territory with Pineapple Express.
However, Rogen and Apatow’s formula, which had proved so successful initially, appears to be wearing thin based on this underwhelming misfire.
Although the film is directed by the acclaimed indie filmmaker, David Gordon Green, and includes several scenes which parody action movies, it is still essentially as much a typical buddy comedy as any of Apatow’s previous efforts.
Dale Denton (Rogen) is the archetypal Apatow hero, who seemingly divides his time between getting high and working a dead end job as a process server.
After he witnesses two drug dealers murdering their hapless victim while smoking pot, Dale unwittingly becomes embroiled in a drug war involving two rival gangs.
Throughout this adventure, he is accompanied by Saul (James Franco), his drug dealer, who is also a personal acquaintance of one of the murderers and whose stupidity is even greater than that of Rogen’s.
Although Apatow and Rogen choose to leave their distinctive brand of stoner humour intact, the film lacks several of the elements which enhanced the team’s previous work.
For example, neither lead possesses the endearingly geeky charm of Michael Cera in Superbad, while the ending lacks sheer warmth of Knocked Up’s final act.
The film is not altogether terrible though, as it does contain some redeeming features. The action sequences are generally quite impressive and the scene where Saul is run over by a police car, before hijacking the vehicle with Dale inside, is particularly well executed.
There are also a few sublimely stupid one liners, such as Saul’s description of pineapple express, a rare and extremely strong type of marijuana, as being like ‘God’s vagina’.
Nonetheless, there are far too many problems with the film for it to be deemed a success. Furthermore, the film’s writing is unmistakably weak.
The fact that Dale and Saul’s vocabulary barely extends beyond the usual profanities accompanied by an obligatory ‘man’, or in some cases ‘dude’, is understandable, given their constant reliance on illicit substances.
All of these aberrations would be forgivable though, had the film not committed the gravest sin of all for a comedy- Pineapple Express simply isn’t funny enough.
The deluge of explicitly homoerotic overtones, such as the mock heroic climax where Dale carries an unconscious Saul out of a burning building, were performed to much greater effect in Superbad.
Moreover, the sub plot revolving around Dale’s turbulent romance with a young female high school student fails to serve any real purpose, other than perhaps providing the film with added shock value.
Indeed, the uninventive and lazy humour which the writers perpetually resort to in this drug orientated farce could prompt bored viewers to ask: ‘What were they smoking?’