Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Express Leaves at 4:20

At least 45% of the theater was stoned. They had to be. This was a movie made for stoners by stoners. The movie is obviously meant to be watched stoned.

So why wasn't it funnier?

A couple of nights before The Cobra, Gladly, Natatat, and I went to go see the highly anticipated Pineapple Express, we were all chilling at Teiam's house for a good ol' fashioned kickback.

Sitting around the firepit, Ratfuck began spitting verbal abuse about the stoner opus. He listed several facts about why Pineapple could perhaps be one of the worst movies of the year. I figured he was just being too critical because of its misrepresentation of smoking and smoking-lifestyle. He stated that it was too absurd, too outlandish to even be believable and that the Apatow crew expected the audience to laugh simply because Dale and Saul are stoned the entire movie.

I didn't want to believe him, so I tried to forget everything he said.

Back to Saturday night. After getting psyched and pumped and ready for the pot picture, we eagerly waited in our seats. The film began, and an hour and fifty minutes later, I left the theater with mixed feelings.

Since then, The Cobra, Gladly, and Natatat have all stated that the more they think about it, the more they realize a sad notion: Pineapple Express was not that funny of a movie.

What happened? Usually the Apatow stamp is a clear indicator of comedic gold.

I think there are several things that went wrong with the film. First, let me make this clear, though: while I definitely see what Ratfuck and Flounder were saying about the movie, I don't think it was as bad as they made it out to be. Sure, the movie flops for the most part, but some parts of the film were pure genius.

The first thing that didn't work was that it lacked "the Apatow touch," meaning it didn't have the thing that made it an Apatow movie. Namely, it was not based in reality. Apatow characters are characters of people that you know, or people that you feel you know. When I watched Knocked Up for the first time, I cried laughing and was a little disturbed because I felt like I was watching my friends and me doing the same things they do, saying the same things they say. It's also a story that could happen to anyone: guy knocks up girl, does responsible thing, tries to make it work, hilarity ensues. I've heard people say they were surprised that Pineapple Express was not only a stoner comedy but also a serious action film. I kept wondering, "Why the hell don't you just go to the cops?" Sure, it can be attributed to stoner paranoia, but that's almost a cop-out. I guarantee you that in the face of danger, a person would sober up or at least think more clearly.

Unless it was really really good weed.

Secondly, and this was Ratfuck and Flounder's point: the movie assumes that just because they are stoned means that it'll be funny. Oh look at Seth Rogen fall because he's stoned. Look at him cough and say stupid things because he's stoned. Oh, the hilarity! Just wasn't buying it. It's true, some things were said because they were stoned so it was funny. It should be the other way: first it's funny, so when you're stoned, it's even funnier.

Third, the plot is extremely weak. The ending is very anti-climactic. There just wasn't enough story to keep the audience engaged for nearly two hours. The only other character worth noting was Red, played by the brilliant and up and coming Danny McBride. After the first thirty minutes, the rest of the film is a long overdrawn chase scene.

Lastly, and this is the part that really bothers me: it's a film where the best scenes were shown in the trailer. Don't you hate it when that happens? Trailers are free online and on television; I didn't need to pay 12 bucks to watch a two-hour trailer. The scene where Franco gets his foot car in the windshield--I know that if I had not seen that in the trailer, tears of laughter would have been streaming down my face. Every time I saw a scene from the trailer on screen, I didn't even flinch.

I don't know what it was, but I left the theater wondering where those two hours went. I feel a movie is comedic gold when it is easily quotable. I could and still only can think of two good quotes from the film:

Girl to Seth Rogen: I wanna marry you!
Seth Rogen: Oooh, umm, shit. Yeah, I think I made a huge mistake. You're way too immature to date.

Seth to cop after being busted with weed: It's medicinal! I'm anorexic! I need it to eat!

The movie had its moments. I mean, after all, it was like Freaks and Geeks: The Fucked-Up Reunion with the great comedy duo of Rogen and Franco. Rogen is his typical self: fat, lazy, and stoned. Franco is a godsend--he's like the Jeff Spiccoli of our generation.

But other than that, the movie really, sadly, was subpar. C'mon, Apatow, you know you can do better than this. It might just be that the Apatow train is losing steam. After all, they have just been overwhelming theaters with their movies. It could be time for a break. Don't release another movie until next year(Funny People due in 2009 starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill, Leslie Mann, and Jason Schwartzman [what a cast!] looks promising). I'm sure Pineapple Express will be a hit on DVD, with high school and college kids watching it the "way it is supposed to be watched."

I'm sure by then I can remember some more quotes.

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