Pineapple Express (2008 movie)…

Pineapple Express (2008 movie)…

Pineapple Express (2008 movie)…

It’s ironic that, only one-half century ago, alcohol was viewed as an A-OK social lubricant. The local drunk was more laughed at then tolerated & even slightly revered for being able to skirt otherwise uptight social norms due to constantly being inebriated.

Oh, how times have changed… Except for college students & their “I bet I can drink a half-bottle of Jack Daniels without even blinking” attitudes.

Thankfully, reality has set in & we all know now just how destructive being addicted to alcohol can be. We no longer pine for movies like “Arthur” where a wealthy but intoxicated gentlemen gets all the laughs & eventually gets away with whatever foil he wraps himself into. We know, quite frankly, the dangers that chemical addiction can bring to a person, their friends, their family & their community.

Don’t we? Uh… Don’t we?

Apparently, the memo that purposefully harming yourself is a bad thing never made it to the doorstop of marijuana or it’s several million advocates. What that memo needed was to be delivered by a subpoena server like in the movie “Pineapple Express.” Or, as the movie progresses… Maybe not.

In “Pineapple Express,” a lowly subpoena server & his marijuana supplier eventually bumble their way into a smoldering power struggle between two marijuana gangs after the server unwittingly witnesses a murder. Being more then a little half-baked, they manage to escape a traitorous middle-man, a crooked female cop, two hitmen (one being far more in touch with their effeminate side then most heterosexuals dare to tread) & a veritable army of Asian assassins (because, let’s face it, don’t all Asians in the movies have a little “Ninja Warrior” in them?) all while stoking the flames for a climactic all-out war between the two gangs in an underground marijuana farm that was once used for more nefarious purposes.

In typical “comedy duo” movies, the pattern of “straight man & complete doofus” is nearly universal. Recent successful movies have altered that pattern slightly (“Dumb & Dumber,” for instance, introduced us to… Well, “A dumb doofus & a dumber doofus”) & that alteration doesn’t escape this movie of where the “straight” man is the one less-baked then the other at that moment.

The source of the funnies is mainly derived that the duo is tactically functional at all, for instance, fumbling their way through a fight sequence with an equally incompetent foil. In another instance, they succeed in cheating death not by being competent at all but by being so incompetent that they miss a meeting whereby they likely would’ve been killed. The “Luck of the Irish,” apparently, can be smoked if you believe this movie.

Between the effeminate hitman, the incompetence of the stoners & the surprising incompetence of one of the marijuana gangs, there is one black sheep in this family of comedic players. The film decides to tack on a “Spring-Fall” romance between the subpoena server & a high school student that is more then just a little uncomfortable & never quite fits in with the rest of the film. It’s almost as if a movie executive took a look at an early draft of the script & said, “How are we supposed to attract women to this film?! Quick, add a romance! Now!!” In fact, every time you see a woman on the screen, you almost get the sense that they are there for the sole purposes of affirmative action rather then adding significantly to the plot & theme of the movie. How is the romance resolved in this film? No one knows. Would the film have really been worse off had it been a corrupt male police officer then a female police officer? How does that relationship add ANYTHING to this movie? ANYTHING?! I can still hear the movie executive in my head saying, “Quick! Add more women to this movie!! Now!!!”

One nice touch (or, more cynically, pathetic pandering) about this movie is it’s heavy-handed gesturing towards the late 1970s. The younger folks may not appreciate or even notice the several hidden tip-o-the-hats to the decade most recognized with “joints” but it definitely added a strong back-current to an already drug-addled storyline. As Shakespeare would have pointed out, this film doth idolize the 1970s a bit too much.

As I watched the film, I wondered if it would have been funnier if two stoners, thinking that they had seen something horrible, compounded their fears by making so many mistakes that they stumbled or otherwise created a crisis that they eventually resolve through their own bumbling. It would have matched the theme of this movie more genuinely – That marijuana creates more problems then it solves, hurts more then it heals & that you wind up not with memories but the sole fact that you’re still alive albeit in worse condition then when you started. This film, surprisingly, actually takes that advice to heart – The romance isn’t resolved, one “good” supporting character is comically near death by the end of the movie while another one now has a story similar to Evander Holyfield to tell. There are no promotions, no rewards… Just three people eating breakfast, licking their wounds & thankful that they’re alive at all. At first, I thought that ending was horrible but, seeing at how integrated this movie is with drug abuse, maybe they were more on-target then even they realized.

No, I’m not a pro-marijuana supporter. It would not help our nation in any way if we could all light up a joint & smoke away. Perhaps I’m not the audience that “Pineapple Express” was pining for & so, therefore, I probably won’t sing it’s praises as loudly as others who enjoy the marijuana leaf more then I. Admittedly, the “bumbling duo” comedy routine worked more then it didn’t even if the tacked-on “Why is this here again?” romance subplot rips one out of the movie every moment that it’s there. It’s an OK movie if you have a fast-forward button handy. If you don’t… Well, there are better movies out there.

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