"It's like killing a unicorn, with like, a bomb."
Somehow I think the men's "round of 64" (as the equally nonstoned announcer kept saying over and over) Olympic badminton that was on this morning when I woke up probably would have been a lot funnier under the influence of some Pineapple Express.
And I promise, to the best of my ability, I will try to make this completely free of any stoner puns (so nothing about "high art" or "buds.")
From the outset of "Pineapple Express," you feel like you know the characters played by Seth Rogen and James Franco (even if you somehow haven't yet seen them together before in "Freaks and Geeks," just watch it already!), and that will be the test of how much you like this movie.
Personally, I liked them quite a bit, making the first half hour of "Pineapple Express" its most enjoyable segment. My only beef would be a fault of my own making: I had seen a lot of the funniest parts in advance. Even so, there's plenty of little gems like the quote at top (from James Franco, about smoking the titular weed) laced in the banter between his dealer and Rogen's perpetually stoned process server (and the action-hero segment about his dreadful job is really funny.) You may find Rogen's constant yelling as the situation deteriorates around them a bit annoying, but I think under the circumstances (witnessing a murder committed by a drug dealer [Gary Cole] and a cop [Rosie Perez], of course), I'd probably be at least as frantic.
As the movie shifts from comedy to action flick, there's one transition scene that I guarantee will have you laughing out loud from the opening blow. If you've seen it, you know I'm talking about that house fight with Danny McBride's Red which makes use of just about every fixture in sight (though I won't tell you how.) Until now I really hadn't been able to appreciate just how funny a guy McBride is, having only seen him in the instantly forgettable "Drillbit Taylor" and goofily entertaining "Hot Rod" (though I did just save his first real starring vehicle, Jody Hill's "Foot Fist Way," in my Neflix queue for when it comes out Sept. 27.) Here he sustains the flick as it starts to lose course near the end, and his constantly battered drug dealer is just a joy to watch.
The formula of "Pineapple Express" starts to shine through (see, I was gonna make a rather weak joke about "coming down," but I won't) as the flick builds to its surprisingly intense big showdown inside a farmhouse filled with legendary weed. It's not that it's not funny, which it is, or suitably violent, which it certainly is too. I just had the feeling that I've seen this all before and done funnier, specifically by Edgar Wright and crew in "Hot Fuzz."
And one final word about the ending, which I really appreciated because director David Gordon Green and writers Rogen and Evan Goldberg set you up for one of those cheesy, five-years-later endings before pulling a fast switch, and I admit I fell for it and laughed all the harder for being fooled.
The bottom line: I've probably been a little hard on this one only because of my own lofty expectations, but if you're expecting a stoner comedy with serious laughs and just enough heart, you won't be disappointed. Peace out.
P.S.: In my search for information on Danny McBride, I found out that he and Jody Hill have made a half-hour pilot for HBO called "East Bound and Down" (with apologies, I suppose, to Jerry Reed and "Smokey and the Bandit") starring McBride as a former pro athlete who has to return to his hometown as a substitute gym teacher. No idea if or when it will air, but definitely keep your eyes out for it.