Whether you view it as the stoner’s take on Die Hard, or just another chance to see Seth Rogen in a comedy leading role, following the journey of Pineapple Express is, ultimately, not a bad way to spend an evening in.
The set up is straightforward enough. Rogen’s characters spends his days serving notices to people, a job that just about pays to keep him in his substance of choice, and just about keeps him in a relationship with his girlfriend. But through a plot contrivance, he ends up witnessing a mob murder, and is tracked down by them through his use of a new drug, the pineapple express of the title, of which there is just one supplier in the vicinity.
That supplier turns out to be James Franco – he of Spider-man and, to many of us, Freaks and Geeks fame – and the pair suddenly find themselves on the run from mobsters and bad guys, including an always-welcome appearance from Gary Cole. Thus, it becomes a stoner buddie movie, albeit one with some cracking dialogue, and a fine dynamic between Rogen and Franco at its core. It doesn’t particularly keep its feet on the ground, and has an assortment of problems (it loses itself a little near the end, and it’s going to be simply too daft for some), but it is very funny when it’s on fire, and Rogen does his star no harm whatsoever.
Good to see James Franco get such a solid role, too. A sequel here, to get Rogen and Franco back together, really wouldn’t hurt. A heads up too for Ed Begley Jr, whose small cameo is one of the highlights of the film.
The Blu-ray does a solid job of presenting the film, with a detailed, if hardly vital, 1080p transfer. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the transfer that we could see, but the bar was lifted in some style by the likes of Wall-E and The Dark Knight at the end of 2008, and Pineapple Express inevitably can’t come close to matching either. It’s a solid surround mix, though, with a vibrant and broad soundstage, and good use of the surrounds.
The disc itself is crammed with extras, not least a cut of the film that’s five minutes longer should you choose to spin it. You’ll also get a terrific commentary for entertainment purposes, even if you don’t find out too much about the making of the film itself. On board are Rogen, Franco, director David Gordon Green, Ed Begley Jr, co-screenwriter Evan Goldberg (Rogen is the other writer), and Danny McBride.
The disc also features a better-than-usual making of documentary (that reveals its inspiration came from watching Brad Pitt in True Romance!), and a featurette digging into its action sequences. Plus there’s the Comic Con panel in there, a lot of raw footage (that does take a bit of wading through), material from the rehearsals and read through, and a collection of deleted scenes, most of which you won’t have any problem with them landing on the cutting room floor. A few other brief featurettes also look at David Gordon Green directing the film, and James Franco getting injured, amongst other things. Most of the extras package, it should be noted, is really quite entertaining in its own right, much of it in the spirit of the film itself.
And a fine film it is. We do wonder though if Rogen and Franco may reunite again for that sequel in the future, as it wouldn’t be an unwelcome prospect. For now, though, Pineapple Express has its problems, but you can’t help but enjoy it.
The Film:The Disc:
14 January 2009