Seth Rogen plays process server Dale Denton, a man of many disguises who loves the gotcha moments when an unsuspecting doctor or husband or whoever finds his or herself on the receiving end of a Dale-delivered subpoena. Dale's not bad at his job, he's got a pretty 18 year old high school senior (Amber Heard) as a girlfriend, and his pot dealer, Saul (James Franco), keeps him well supplied with weed.
However, Dale's sweet life turns sour when Saul offers him a new strain of pot named Pineapple Express. It's the best weed on the planet and very rare. So rare that when Dale witnesses a lady cop (Rosie Perez) and one of the city's major drug dealers (Gary Cole) – a guy Dale was casing in order to subpoena - murdering someone, he's identified by the killers by the joint he tossed out of the car window when trying to flee the scene.
Unable to fully understand what he's just seen, Dale finds himself at a total loss as to where to turn. He's high, he's just seen a stranger shot to death in front of his very stoned eyes, and now he's scared out of his drug-addled mind. So where does he run to? His friendly neighborhood pot dealer, of course.
Rogen, Franco and Apatow first worked together on Freaks and Geeks, a short-lived TV comedy which helped launch lots of careers (Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, etc., etc., etc.). After it went off the air, Franco was in demand but pretty much left the comedy world behind for dramatic fare (including a lead role in the Spider-Man franchise). Franco's return to comedy is a long time coming, and it appears as though he made the right choice in choosing Pineapple Express to use as his vehicle for returning to the genre.
Rogen and Franco are surrounded in Pineapple Express by a batch of very capable comic actors led by Danny McBride. McBride plays the middle-man between Gary Cole's character and Franco's, and is involved in a full-on slapstick-ish brawl with Rogen and Franco. McBride gets the short end of the deal and winds up duct-taped to a chair (that doesn't translate in print as well as it works in the film). Also showing up for a bit of hilarity is The Office's Craig Robinson who teams up with Kevin Corrigan to play hit men for Gary Cole.
It's actually surprising just how much of an action movie Pineapple Express turned out to be. Based on the clips and trailers, you'd think all Rogen and Franco do is smoke pot, talk about smoking pot, or get ready to smoke pot. And there is a lot of pot smoking in Pineapple Express – it drives the comedy – but as with most Apatow comedies, there's also a lot of touching male bonding rolled into the mix.
Pineapple Express works because it's funny without being preachy and over-the-top without being ridiculous - even when Rogen and Franco grab machine guns and go all commando on the bad guys. Pineapple Express also works because of the natural-feeling interplay between Rogen and Franco. A lot of that has to do with their improvising much of the dialogue, but it's also due to the direction of David Gordon Green (Snow Angels) who tackles his first big-budget studio comedy with Pineapple Express.
On a scale of Apatow movies, I'd rank Pineapple Express well below Knocked Up but just slightly below Superbad, and a step above Step Brothers. But your enjoyment of it is really going to depend on your tolerance for pot humor (not to be confused with potty humor) and your ability to just completely suppress any urge to apply logic to the storyline. And for those of you wondering, you definitely don't have to be high to enjoy a trip on the Pineapple Express.
Pineapple Express was directed by David Gordon Green and is rated R for pervasive language, drug use, sexual references and violence.
Theatrical Release Date: August 6, 2008