Friday, August 22, 2008

Pineapple Express

Did you ever wonder if you crossed a Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Fargo together? Well to be honest I never really did either. On the surface it would seem like just too far of a stretch, at least at first it would. Then I started thinking, if you got some talented actors, put together a pretty good script, this could turn out to be quite a story and fun movie. It was with that in mind I was actually looking forward to seeing Pineapple Express.

David Gordon Green was given the opportunity to direct a potentially good and unique screenplay provided by Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg. This different kind of comedy action film takes on new ground. The idea is that a couple of dopers get caught up in a murder mystery and must escape the attempts on their lives by the police who are involved and the mafia types who are in control. A new type of marijuana, Pineapple Express, is part of the story line and in the process of running for their life, these two dopers have to come to a place where they recognize what is really important.

Dale Denton played by wonderful character actor Seth Rogan works as a court server. He serves warrants to unsuspecting individuals whether a divorce case or criminal case which only adds to a meaningless life where he finds little in life to enjoy. While he is 24-years-old he has fallen for a 17-year-old high school student. While Rogan does a great job with his character we have to wonder about some of the direction and backdrop stories along the way.

Then there is Saul Silver played in a fun, fun way by James Franco. In many ways Silver has lost touch with reality, his life evolves around various types of drugs, and unfortunately he hasn’t learned of the difficulties of keeping a taste of the product you are supposed to be making a living from. Unfortunately for him though, he isn’t making a living, in fact, this character isn’t doing much more than existing. Even in the process of existing though there is something about this character the audience member can appreciate and like. Silver is an individual that through the innocence presented by Franco has us caring for. In many ways, Saul Silver is a character we see with potential, one we like.

A third character that adds a lot of fun to the screen is Red played by Danny McBride. Red is a drug supplier caught in the middle between his friend Saul Silver and leader of the organized crime group providing the drugs, Budlofsky played by the usually talented actor Kevin Corrigan. While McBride is fun to watch on the screen, Corrigan disappoints in his flat portrayal.

Along the way there is some fun dialog and interactions with these two. They are fun on screen together and unfortunately, they are more like real life dopers than many will realize. Unfortunately, I know about these experiences. Some of what makes the movie so funny is the ability of those of us in the audience to relate to the jokes and illustrations we see on screen. In those moments, the film is funny, and even enjoyable, even though it is a lifestyle I wouldn’t want to promote.

Pineapple Express does do a good job of presenting some fun moments centered around the usage of drugs, but surprisingly enough, it also does a decent job at showing the affects of drugs and the potential to destroy lives. There is harm in the attempt to satisfy self desires. Relationships can’t be trusted, friendships are lost, and trust is never really found. It becomes obvious that in some ways the characters are using each other, and it is only after the characters come off of and stops taking their drugs that they realize the importance the things taken from drug usage. While drug usage is the example for the characters, it is really only a metaphor of an attempt to help the viewer come to think about what is important in their own life. In that regard, as the movie moved forward I begin to think that my hopes of a deeply spiritual profound movie that would touch on the needs of today’s society, especially a group of people who seemed to thrive on this type of lifestyle. Unfortunately, my hopes didn’t develop, in fact, not only did they not develop, I felt let down.

Even in the areas where Pineapple Express let’s us down we can see characters and people we hope for, long for. It is a reminder that there is value in all people, that there are situations that cause people to do the things they do. It is in this area that those of us who are people of faith can relate to. Jesus as well saw value in the down and out, the down trodden, the drunks, the prostitutes, the out casts and we could go on. Here we can see benefit in realizing that people who live this lifestyle have value, they have potential, and they are worth saving.

Somewhere along the line in his direction Green lets the script take a life of its own and the story isn’t developed, in fact it jumps in and out of reality and from one place to another with little or no cohesiveness. I tend to think it could have come about in the editing room and some of the story we needed got left on the cutting room floor, but the bottom line, is Pineapple Express looses its way. While the movie is intended to be fun, it seems to have a hard time finding the balance between comedy and action. While there are funny lines, the movie falls flat. That is kind of sad because this movie had potential. It had potential to not only be a funny action filled movie, it had potential to be a great movie. Unfortunately what we have is a less than average movie. Hopefully those seeing it will get some benefit of the need to be open, honest, real, and above all straight.

On a scale of 1 – 10 for the lackluster story, that is less than average, I give a rather disappointing 4.

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