Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express

2008, R, 105 min. Directed by David Gordon Green. Starring Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride, Gary Cole, Rosie Perez, Amber Heard, Craig Robinson, Kevin Corrigan, James Remar.

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Aug. 8, 2008

Rounding the third act of this stoner action-comedy, there's a big laugh that comes from a small moment of art reflecting life reflecting art. A low-level pot dealer named Red (played by the terrific character actor McBride) psychs himself up for a modern-day OK Corral by cocking his firearm and sing-songing "Thug Life." He's play-acting at being a toughie, and so too are the many and varied talents at work here in this affectionate bid at the buddy pics of the Seventies and Eighties. Rogen (who co-wrote the script with partner Evan Goldberg) plays a process server named Dale Denton, who accidentally witnesses a murder and must go on the lam with his dealer, the sweet, half-lidded Saul (Franco). (The title refers to a particular strain of weed that Saul sells Dale, weed so good it smells like "God's vagina.") The action follows the pair almost exclusively, and Rogen and Franco – who previously worked together on Freaks and Geeks and are part of überproducer Judd Apatow's rotating roster – have a comfortable, freewheeling chemistry, like Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder's. Strip away the guys with guns chasing after them, and what you have are two loners stumbling onto a soulmate – or another hilarious, heartfelt ode to fraternal love in the same vein as Rogen and Goldberg's breakout from last summer, Superbad. In the morally uncomplicated landscape of the buddy picture, it's "bros before hos!" (as Red serially, nonsensically cries out), and that idea might as well be hand-stenciled and nailed crooked to the door of the Apatow clubhouse. That exclusivity rankles less in Pineapple Express, partly because we are tossed a delicious little bone by way of Perez's pert, dirty cop and partly because the mostly male cast is so good, right down the line, from the bad guys to the bit parts and, most especially, the unlikely leads. Franco, who too often gravitates toward wet-blanket roles, is a revelation as kindhearted idiot savant Saul, and the smirking, plush-toy pliable Rogen (Knocked Up) defies action-hero conventions to achieve what he may count, in his twilight years, as his single greatest moment on film: a slo-mo free fall onto the back of a drug lord that rock-star splits between beauty and badassedness (it's blood-free, too, which cannot be said about the film's hyperviolent, shoot ’em up climax). The arthouse darling director Green (All the Real Girls) plays against type, too, and in the process has crafted a film that is at once elegant and sublimely silly. That's no mean feat: When was the last time you paused during a Will Ferrell comedy to admire a sun-dappled, wooded idyll or how it recalled some long-ago romantic idea about AM radio?

More Pineapple Express
Gordon Green Goes Ganja
Gordon Green Goes Ganja
An new addition to the pot film pantheon

Kimberley Jones, Feb. 15, 2008

More David Gordon Green
The Aftermath of the Big Headline: <i>Stronger</i>
The Aftermath of the Big Headline: Stronger
David Gordon Green talks about the unlucky bystander to history

Marjorie Baumgarten, Oct. 3, 2017

First Trailer Released for <i>Our Brand Is Crisis</i>
First Trailer Released for Our Brand Is Crisis
Sandra Bullock and David Gordon Green head to Bolivia

Josh Kupecki, Sept. 8, 2015

More David Gordon Green Films
The story of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman

Danielle White, Sept. 29, 2017

Our Brand Is Crisis
Sandra Bullock shines in David Gordon Green's political comedy

Marc Savlov, Oct. 30, 2015

More by Kimberley Jones
Holiday Viewing: <i>Bad Santa</i>
Holiday Viewing: Bad Santa
Foul-mouthed fun for the holidays

Dec. 15, 2017

Holiday Viewing: TV Christmas Episodes
Holiday Viewing: TV Christmas Episodes
Celebrate the season in Sunnydale, the Oval Office, and more

Dec. 14, 2017


Pineapple Express, David Gordon Green, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride, Gary Cole, Rosie Perez, Amber Heard, Craig Robinson, Kevin Corrigan, James Remar

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)