Stars: ** 1/2
Rating: R for language, drug use, sexual reference and violence
Run Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes
I’m typically not a fan of the wildly popular Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen collaborative efforts (“Knocked Up”, “Superbad”, etc.) but a pitch-perfect performance by Palo Alto native James Franco temporarily sways me in the other direction.
Franco is Saul Silver, an affable hey-dude pusher of the dopest dope who finds himself in hot water when one of his clients witnesses a murder. Said customer is Dale Denton (Rogen), a schlumpy twenty-something process server with a high-school girlfriend and an affinity for the weed.
Parked outside the home of the city’s most notorious dealer (and prepped to deliver yet another subpoena) Denton sees his client and a female cop (Rosie Perez) waste a Chinese kingpin with ruthless brutality.
Denton makes a ruckus and throws his half-smoked doobie to the pavement before taking off in a panic. Unfortunately that particular brand of herb (Pineapple Express don’tcha know) is traced straight back to Silver.
What begins as a toker-action-comedy turns pure buddy pic as Denton and Silver engage in a ludicrous odyssey cum comedy of errors to escape the drug lords who want their heads on a platter. Translation: a raunchy blend of car chases, sex play, gun battles and lots and lots of pot.
Rogen co-wrote the script which lays waste to lowbrow stupidity while tackling a smarter stream of consciousness. Long laugh-less stretches are punctuated with moments of genuine wit, most of them courtesy of Franco, whose well-honed dramatic skills also include wicked comic timing. (Move over Spicoli, there’s a new stoner in town!) Danny McBride brings up the rear as a hilarious middleman named Red.
Inexplicably “Pineapple” is helmed by melancholy indie fave David Gordon Green who penned and directed one of my favorite films of this year (“Snow Angels”) -- though none of his spare signature style is evident.