Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pineapple Express

Saturday I headed out to Alamo South to see the latest film in the Apatow/ Rogan/ Ferrell... comedy phalanx that has pretty much redefined comedy rather abruptly since 40 Year Old Virgin (speaking of... I think Steve Carrell would do well to hook up with these guys again rather than enter into another big-budget flick with luke-warm critical and audience reception).

Pineapple Express won't appeal to my parents, and I really wouldn't find it something I'd want my kids to see if they were under 16. But it does hit that sweet marketing spot of 18-34 year olds pretty well.

I did find the movie funny. I found the reviews that harped on the shocking violence and action to have overstated their case. The balance was similar to films such as "Beverly Hills Cop", so I don't think action/ comedy of this nature is exactly a new idea.

For full disclosure, here is my "six degrees of separation" relationship to director David Gordon Green. Green lived on my floor in Jester my first year of college, and I think, at most, I would say hi to him in the hallway. I knew him mostly because he lived with another David, musician David Wingo, so they were in the room with two Davids. David Green fled UT to go to a film conservatory in North Carolina sophomore year, which I thought was just crazy at the time. And he'd send David Wingo copies of his student work, which we'd all watch at parties and whatnot.

What struck me as interesting was that (a) I was never enamored with Green's sense of humor in his college films (I was alone in this opinion). And (b) how Pineapple Express displayed some of that sense of humor, but actually really made it work. The same sense of uncontrolled chaos and oddly placed priorities is as present in his films I recall watching in college as Pineapple Express.

Speaking of, seeing what happened to his work between his college material and his first feature, George Washington, was mind-blowing. There's nothing like seeing someone else's work, who should be your peer, to let you know "this person has a skill I do not, and never could, have."

Pineapple Express is a pretty darn far cry from George Washington, so it'll be interesting to see what direction green takes his career from here.

Also, I need to look up Wingo. It's been years since I've talked to that guy. Tjeff will know where he is... Little help, tjeff?

(tjeff who floats through the comments section occasionally is, by the way, another musician whose work I'd recommend. Here's his site.)

I also happened to watch part of "Knocked Up" last night, the Seth Rogan sleeper hit from last summer. And while I enjoyed Rogan in "Pineapple Express", Rogan is going to need to learn to play a character other than Seth Rogan at some point. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but at some point, the audience is going to find all of his roles so indistinguishable, its going to have a negative effect. Doofus twenty-something with a disarming laughing is only going to work so long.

And, surprisingly, James Franco's perpetually stoned character "Saul" doesn't come off as grating, but actually pretty likable, which I wasn't expecting. Franco is a pretty direct contrast to Rogan's insistence on playing himself, as he throws himself into the character pretty fully, and is unrecognizable as Harry Osborn of the Spidey movies.

As per plot, PE is a surprisingly tight crime script, with a certain narrowly defined cast of colorful characters (Danny McBride of "Foot Fist Way" is a particular highlight). Too often comedies decide plot is secondary, but Pineapple Express has natural arcs for literally every character, and works as well, from a narrative standpoint, as any recent crime movie I've seen. It just happens to feature two guys who could be your neighbors in the last apartment complex you lived in.

I'll be honest, I don't think you'll lose much seeing the movie on the small screen. So you can probably wait to see it in the comfort of your La-Z-Boy. And while I'm not sure how long the Apatow comedy collective (oh, Freaks and Geeks! What wonders thou hast wrought!) can keep up this pace, but they're managing to make movies that seem a heck of a lot smarter than, say, "Hollywood Chihuahua".


Michael Corley said...

I'm just shocked he was in Jester. I have no memory of "The Two Davids". Of course, I have little memory of where I ate last week...

The League said...

He walked around with a banjo occasionally. That might spark a memory.

Really, I think the guy kept entirely to himself. I felt like I knew Dave Wingo to a degree by the end of the year, but I never talked to David Green at all.

Anonymous said...

I didn't care for George Washington too much, but I loved Undertow. Did you see it?

The League said...

I haven't seen anything by Green but George Washington and Pineapple Express. Alas.

J.S. said...

In all fairness, you have't even seen Hallywood Chihuahua. And I fully intend to make it the theme of your 34th birthday party.

The League said...

I look forward to your 36th, and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Anonymous said...

first half of Pineapple Express was about half as good as Knocked Up; the second half was almost as bad as Freddy Got Fingered

The League said...

I dunno man.

A) I thought the movie was fairly consistent in quality

B) I HATED Freddy Got Fingered. But I respect it in a way.

Tom Green made a movie that pretty much intended to be as annoying as the hi-jinks of his TV show, but perpetrated upon anyone dumb enough (me) to spend time watching the movie. That man knew exactly what he was doing.

Unfortunately, just as on his TV show, the victims don't find the pranking funny. Which was the movie-going public, and thus his audience proved they couldn't take a joke.

Which is fine. I never understood the appeal of the Tom Green Show. It was stupid and cruel, as is much of MTV, I guess. And said more to me about the baboon-howling fans of the show than it ever said about Green.