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PINEAPPLE EXPRESS
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Gary Cole, Rosie Perez, Danny McBride
Director: David Gordon Green
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Sony
Features: See Review
Length: 117 Minutes
Release Date: January 6, 2009

“I'm trying to decide how stoned I am and just how on the verge of death am I right now. Like, am I seeing sh*t because I'm stoned or because I have no blood left in my body.”

“Well, you’ve been shot like seven times.”

Film ***1/2

With Pineapple Express, the stoner comedy gets taken to a whole new level of insanity. The movie can be best described as a hilarious ride through stoner hell. Added to the mix is a quite tremendous comedic action bloodbath that occupies the final half.

The Judd Apatow comedy factory was on quite a roll in 2008, producing three hilarious home runs with Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Step Brothers and now Pineapple Express. What makes this one stand out a bit from previous Apatow comedies is that this is the first stab at a pure action-comedy. Another element that makes this one different, and what peaked my interest in the movie mostly, was that it was the first film in the Apatow library to have a truly gifted filmmaker in the director’s chair; David Gordon Green.

And though this won’t go down as Green’s greatest cinematic achievement, his directing style is indeed one of the highlights of this insanely funny movie. His incorporation of freeze-frames and transitions indicate Green’s love for 70s-style filmmaking. In a way, I’m hoping that this movie will inspire viewers to check out Green’s past gems, even though none of them are the least bit funny.

The story goes like this; Dale (Seth Rogen) is a process server and daily weed smoker. His best friend, Saul (James Franco), is also his personal drug dealer. Dale makes an effort each day, in between serving papers, to chill with Saul and blaze up a joint or two.

Saul introduces Dale to a special kind of weed he’s just come into possession of. It’s called pineapple express, said to give off a most potent kind of high. I can’t exactly quote Saul’s exact description of it, but the way he describes it is genius.

Later that night, Dale plans to serve his last set of papers for the day. But it just so happens the man he’s about to serve, Ted Jones (Gary Cole), is the town drug kingpin. It also happens that as Dale pulls in the front of his home, he witnesses Ted off someone in cold blood.

Dale, high as a kite from the pineapple express, freaks out and flees the scene. In his state of panic, he leaves behind his joint. Ted recognizes the brand of weed because he’s the only supplier of it. With Saul being the only dealer to obtain it, Ted soon has hitmen on Dale and Saul’s trail.

This sets into motion the wild and zany tone of Pineapple Express, and for me it results in one of the funniest movies the past year. Had it not come to theaters the week prior to Tropic Thunder, it may have ended up as the funniest movie of last year. Nonetheless, the movie has the distinct quality of being one of the funniest stoner movies I’ve ever seen.

A lot of the strength of the comedy comes from the dead-on chemistry between Seth Rogen and James Franco. You immediately buy them as stoner friends within minutes of their first scene together. Franco, in a brilliant comedic performance, provides what for me is the single funniest stoner character in movie history.

But not even the hilarity in Franco’s performance can prepare you for the side-splitting turn from Danny McBride as Red, an acquaintance of Saul’s. I don’t even want to spoil the details of his character, mostly because I’d be ruining some of the biggest laughs in the movie. Let’s just say, his character goes through quite a lot.

The movie’s violent climax seemed to turn some people off, but for me that was one of the biggest pleasures of the entire flick. It had been too long since we had a true action-comedy to grace the screen. This is the first movie to capture the spirit of the action comedy since Bad Boys II.

Pineapple Express is very much the cinematic fix for fans of both stoner movies and action comedies. The high (no pun intended) level of insanity on display in the movie is downright invigorating at times. It’s a pure laughfest from beginning to end, and you really don’t have to be under the influence to enjoy it, though I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt.

Video ****

This Blu-ray release from Sony boasts one outstanding looking presentation. The HD anamorphic picture brings out the stunning qualities in David Gordon Green’s visual style. Colors, especially, look absolutely fantastic! The simplest shots in the movie look nothing short of fantastic, but the daytime outdoor shots are particularly stunning. All in all, a true example of high-definition brilliance.

Audio ****

Of all the Judd Apatow movies, this is without question the one with the most incredible sound mix, thanks in large part to the action packed second half. But all the way through the flick, the Dolby TrueHD mix is firing on all cylinders. Everything from music to dialogue delivery to gun fire is in pure top-notch form!

Features ****

As is the case with all Judd Apatow movies, this release from Sony gets a tremendous treatment in the extras department. But for the Blu-ray edition, you get all the extras on one disc. We get both the Theatrical and Extended Versions of the movie, and extras-wise we get a very funny commentary track with David Gordon Green, Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Franco, Danny McBride, and Ed Begley, Jr. Also included are Deleted Scenes, Extended/Alternate Scenes, multiple featurettes including “The Making Of Pineapple Express”, “The Action Of Pineapple Express” “Phone Booth”, Line-O-Rama and
Direct-O-Rama segments, a Gag Reel, Item 9 (which you have to see to believe), additional featurettes including “Saul's Apartment”, “Raw Footage”, “Begley's Best”, “Red And Jessica's Guide To Marriage
Injury Report”, “Stuntmaster Ken”, “Rehearsal Footage”, “First Table Read” and “Comic-Con Panel”. 

Summary:

Pineapple Express, for me, is one of the absolute funniest movies to emerge from the Judd Apatow comedy factory. I admire its courage to take the stoner comedy to newer and more insane, heights. Seth Rogen and James Franco make a dynamic comedy pairing and the mixture of action and comedy is, for lack of a better word, BLAZIN!

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