Friday, January 16, 2009

Pineapple Express: High Optional

I'm not a big fan of pot movies, though I've seen a surprising number of them. Watching other people get high and be silly has a very limited appeal, and I'm rarely in the mood. (Maybe if I opened the vent in my kitchen, I'd understand better.) However, Cody's been excited about Pineapple Express since it was first previewed like crazy for the big screen, so we settled in the other night to watch it.

(**Like all movie discussions, beware for spoilers. Continue reading at your own risk.**)

The previews had hyped the film to be a pot movie with some action, which was a dubious combination to begin with and could go wrong in so many ways that I didn't get my hopes up. When one of the first scenes viewed like a cinematic High Times centerfold scene, where drawers of enormous bags of pot were opened and displayed, various types were named, etc., I began to fear for the fate of the movie. When Saul, one of the main characters, pulled out the cross joint, I thought the end (of me liking the film) was near. It was the point in the film where the director/writer probably expected every pothead watching to pause the film, roll their own cross joint, turn to their nearest friend for help lighting it, and experiment to find out whether or not the smoke trifecta really worked the way Saul explained.

(Now that I think about it, perhaps there's some genius in that: it's like the ultimate 3D experience with a bonus--get the audience to feel what the main characters are feeling, and then they'll most likely be high for the rest of the film and be more inclined to like it. Not a bad plan. If only they'd do that with wine instead of pot...)

Just when I was about to give up hope, a little violence was added to the scene. Now I've talked about how I don't like violence mixed with sex/romance, but violence mixed with humor I'm a big fan of (in movies only). This movie delivered both in spades. It shifted from being a movie about a pothead to being a movie about a dynamic character on the run, with comedy mixed in. (There's even a lovely theme about the strength of friendship and good karma.)

Here's what I liked most about the movie: each scene got more ridiculous than the previous. The characters jumped to correct conclusions about what people off-stage were plotting faster and less realistically, the action got progressively more fantastical, and the general plot became less and less believable. And it worked. Really well. By the end of the film, I'd been led along so nicely, my willingness to suspend disbelief built up so well, that it was hysterical rather than annoying that Red was eating, drinking, driving, toting a gun, and speaking normally all with several bullet holes through his gut.

Contrast this movie to Tropic Thunder, which we also just saw, and Pineapple Express wins hands down. Tropic Thunder was better and worse than I thought it was going to be, but given the choice to watch it again (as in, go back in time and watch it), I don't think I would. The best thing about the movie was Tom Cruise (and I'm so NOT a Cruise fan). Pineapple Express I would see again. Maybe without the whole time travel thing, too.

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