This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com
The stoner comedy sub-genre never really seems to go away, despite having little more than one joke to repeat endlessly. Following the line from Cheech and Chong to Harold and Kumar leads us to Pineapple Express, which mixes the usual getting high and getting food action with, er, witnessing a murder and going on the run from corrupt cops and drug dealers. Hmm.
Surprisingly, or perhaps not given who’s behind the film, it works quite well, the Judd Apatow stable knocking out another thoroughbred. I’m not convinced any sort of detailed plot recap helps explain why it’s funny, being a fairly lightly strung together selection of skits and setpieces in the tradition of its forebears. It’s not funny because of any narrative imperative. It’s funny because of a great ensemble cast of comic actors.
Seth Rogen, who I’d hope you’re familiar with by now, delivers another solid, funny everyman role and James Franco’s whimsical, childish drug dealer provides a suitably silly character to riff off. I’ve always liked Gary Cole, and his shouty gangster role provides a great deal of the fun here.
Given that this film is perhaps best described as being something like a stoner culture version of Lethal Weapon combined with an absurdist comedy, that it works so well is perhaps the most surprising thing of all. Revelling in what at times heads towards a parody of both the stoner and all-action elements of its genetic makeup, it manages to maintain a delicate balance of respecting its heritage and poking fun at it.
The bottom line is that there’s a clutch of really great comic acting performances in here, to the extent that it might well be the best piece of ensemble acting I’ve seen this year. Of course, it’s only boring serious drawing room dramas that are ever recognised as that, but I’m rather getting sidetracked again. I laughed a lot, and there’s not a vast amount more you can ask for in a comedy. Go see.