It’s hard to be down on a buddy comedy about two likable people who are involved in a mix-up that leaves them in a life or death situation. It’s even harder to be down on a film like this when weed is involved, because any negative you say will be interpreted as, “Well, you are just against pot”. This is frustrating, and it also means that a little acknowledgement towards the subject is something that I have to give before the review can commence.
So, for the record, I am not against the legalization of marijuana. I’m not for it either, I just really don’t care. I haven’t put enough thought into the matter to have a clear opinion, so color me neutral and somewhat ignorant on the subject, because that’s about where I stand. I just can’t bring myself to a point where I care enough to form a valid opinion, but just know that anything negative I have to say about Pineapple Express does not come from some deep-rooted burning hatred of pot.
The story is basically what I described in the opening paragraph. One character witnesses a murder, he involves another character, and most of the film revolves around them attempting to figure out what’s going on, while also running for their lives because the person who saw the murder was seen, and is now being hunted down because of that. The character who saw the murder is a process-server named Dale Denton (Seth Rogan), and the second character is his drug dealer Saul (James Franco).
There are a few more subplots than that, adding a small layer of depth to the film, but that’s the general idea. It’s a simple story, one that won’t feature any surprises, but it’s short, sweet and something else. I forget, it must have been all the pot that I– I mean, it’s also silly. There are a lot of moments in the film where characters do not behave how you’d expect them to, and some stunts that don’t seem like they could happen in real life.
It’s also silly in the sense that there are some funny moments. I’ll admit that I did laugh at fair amount of the film, at least during the first two-thirds of it. Characters are funny, charming and they grow on you, and when they’re talking to one another, you feel a connection. It’s clear that a lot of the dialogue was improvised, and this actually did make a lot of it humorous to listen to.
It’s unfortunate, however, that Pineapple Express took the “big, epic, climactic battle” finale, instead of the one that it easily could have pulled off given the subject matter at hand here; a mellow ending would have fit quite well in my estimation. Instead, we are treated to a rambunctious, overly dramatic and somewhat boring final third. There are some good action scenes scattered throughout, but it quickly becomes clear that bunching a large number of them together isn’t in the film’s best interest, despite it doing this anyway.
This lackluster ending also makes Pineapple Express leave a bad taste in your mind days after watching it. Most of the movie is funny, I’ll admit, but you quickly forget about that fact after the movie ends, because it closes on such a poor note. Rogan isn’t an action star, or at least, he doesn’t show that he can be one in this film, so seeing him shooting guns, and jumping around in a shootout bores, instead of excites. The action scenes before the ending work well because they break up any monotony you might be feeling, but at the ending, where it’s nothing but these scenes, you get bored with them.
There also does feel like a lack of tension for a lot of the film. Even when Rogan and Franco’s characters look like they could be in trouble, you don’t worry for them because you know that they’ll somehow get out of it. Maybe not entirely in one piece, but they’ll make it. This likely stems from their characters’ nonchalant attitudes; they rarely act in a way that makes you believe they’re in a rush. You will grow to like these characters, as they seem like they’d be fun to hang out with, but you won’t fear for them, making the action scenes, and the finale in particular, less effective.
Pineapple Express is a film that I enjoyed for most of its duration, but was really let down by its ending. Look past that, and it’s funny, and possesses a bunch of characters that you will grow to like. It lacks tension though, which, while not an incredibly important point, makes the action scenes less effective. Rogan and Franco play characters you will end up enjoying the company of, and the jokes are usually enough to keep you laughing, at least until the film stops having jokes, and decides to have a grand shoot ’em up.