All aboard the night train to crazytown! Stoner comedies have been around since Cheech and Chong were first getting arrested, but I don't think I've ever seen one as cheerfully confused as David Gordon Green's Pineapple Express. It's a buddy comedy about a process server (Seth Rogen) who has to defeat a drug kingpin (Gary Cole), get his girl (Amber Heard) back, stop a corrupt local cop (Rosie Perez), and make up with his friend Saul (James Franco).
It's yet another semi-smart goof from producer Judd Apatow, and while it's not a crash-and-burn disaster like Drillbit Taylor, Express doesn't quite live up to Knocked Up or The 40-Year-Old Virgin-movies that were, in a backhanded way, written in defense of traditional fatherhood and chastity. It's old-fashioned but true: A moral imperative makes a better story, even a frothy comedy.
Both those films included Seth Rogen, the 26-year-old savant who wrote and stars in Pineapple Express, and his script shows some promise. The movie's best gags are its quietest-"It's daylight savings. I have to change my bubbe's clocks," frets friendly, on-the-lam pot dealer Saul in a rare calm moment-but there are plenty of chuckles. The real problem with this R-rated comedy (the language is pretty foul, and there's a surprising amount of violence) is that these reasonably funny guys are mostly here to hang out, enjoy each others' company, and smoke weed. That's not exactly high drama.
And, of course, marijuana is still an illegal psychoactive drug, although the film is set in L.A., where that may seem like less of a big deal (Joel Stein recently devoted a column in the Los Angeles Times to legally procuring pot). Pineapple Express certainly isn't appropriate for children, and it probably isn't much of a date movie, either.
In fact, the film itself most resembles people who have made liberal use of the film's central preoccupation: unconcerned, not terribly bright, and funny enough to hang out with for about an hour. Pineapple Express runs 111 minutes.