Tuesday, August 23, 2011



David Gordon Green’s ‘Pineapple Express’ is the perfect Seth Rogen script. Rogen is the kind of guy who’d run a gag and then laugh with you. Or grimace. Or plainly just puke. Contrast this with his next action comedy (that he wrote), Michel Gondry’s ‘the Green Hornet’, which had him play uncomfortably single-faced and stuck to character. ‘Pineapple Express’, on the other hand, is entropic. It gives its unshapely hero a lot of space in his own comfort zone that the jokes are more natural and their timing sweet. He’s so disgraceful that it’s hilarious; and with James Franco’s consistent support act, Dale Denton and Saul Silver accomplish something that Reid and Kato never quite did. They click.

Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) is a sort of delivery boy, except it’s justice he serves. He’s so messed up he’s found a legal way to take others down with him. He’d attend your seminar to make sure he gives you your parking ticket, he’d wait your table to give you harassment charges. If you were a farmer, he’d probably show up as Foghorn Leghorn. His girlfriend (Amber Heard) isn’t out of high school yet, his best friend’s a drug dealer who turns ‘civil’ when high, and he himself smokes more joints in a day than he has in his body, which in turn you’d never know because he’s fat. Fat, lazy, always ‘under influence’ which probably constitutes his rationale. He has more funny lines than a good stand-up act, he’s careful work that’s let loose. Saul Silver (James Franco) on the other hand can never smoke less than a particular amount that keeps him in character. He’s not allowed the erraticism of Denton; he throws fights, never rises in arms and is at his calmest best in the eve of crisis. He’s like the great master Oogway, but even less coherent. His wisdom is inertia, his aggression accidental. In fact, it’s so rare that it almost entirely never happens.

These two are as disenchanting as duos can get. They play idiots to each other’s intelligence, eventually coming out smart in the end. And on top. The adventure ends in conversation where they talk about it, Danny McBride joining in as Red, our Third Musketeer for all intents and purposes. They blast a hideout in their own way and settle down on the fact that Oprah can grow on people. Red’s taken seven bullets to one side, Denton’s lost most of an ear and Silver looks like he doesn’t know what hit him. Sarcasm smells stronger than weed, and admirably so.

I couldn’t help but think this was an Apatow answer to ‘Starsky and Hutch’, in the line of drug-busting comedies of the 70s and the 80s in Film and Television. Cops, convertibles, car-chases; love interests have nothing more to do than kiss and cause problems (lest you count kick and scream, as in the case of Carol Brazier on Ted Jones’ team), henchmen hurt each other as opposed to who they’re really supposed to kill, no happy ending is sought-after because things fall in place on their own. That’s what the Asians are for. Seth Rogen (with due respect to buddy and co-writer Evan Goldberg as well) has a comic timing which empowers the viewer in the sense that there’s no dilemma on when you’ve got to take him seriously – you don’t have to, because he never wants you to. After all, he’s the only reason ‘the Green Hornet’ was actually watchable. If Todd Phillips banked his film on the lethargy of a haul of actors including the ever-dependable Vince Vaughn, David Gordon Green has Rogen, with backup performances (the usual Craig Robinson, and even Gary Cole who has his moments). In that, we find, he’s got all that he needs.

‘Pineapple Express’ opens in a discreet, post-Prohibition setup involving Bill Hader where the forces first deem Marijuana illegal. The entire rest of the film drives the idea that it doesn’t matter anyway. It’s fast and fluent, and perpetually high on the bar-chart of fun. It’s relentlessly funny, and it never stops. Not for a moment. And if ever you think you missed something, it's actually got a recap!

But then again, you wouldn't.

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