Shocking, I know, but I actually went to a theater to see yet another product from the Judd Apatow comedy factory: "Pineapple Express." (Proof of Apatow's dominance: most of the trailers were for movies Apatow has nothing to do with, but are stuffed with members of the Apatow Family Players, like "Role Models" with Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks and McLovin; and "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," with Michael Cera, Jay Baruchel and Kat Dennings.) Quick spoilers coming up just as soon as I celebrate my cat's birthday...
Though I enjoyed it, I think I have to put "Pineapple Express" towards the bottom of the Apatow pantheon (said Pantheon is defined as movies either written and/or directed by Apatow himself, or written by alumni of "Freaks and Geeks"). Certainly not as deep as either "40-Year-Old Virgin" or "Knocked Up," or even "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," and slightly less funny on average than "Superbad" (though the laughs were peppered throughout the movie, where "Superbad" tailed off significantly in the second half, especially whenever McLovin was off-screen).
Given that "Midnight Run" is probably my all-time favorite movie, I was pleased when I heard Seth Rogen and company point to that film as a touchstone for "Pineapple Express." But while some of the action parts of the action-comedy worked -- specifically, the car chase, where the application of stoner logic to a cliched scenario made it something special -- all the pieces didn't fit together well. I kept waiting, for instance, for Rogen's process server skills to turn out to be very useful in defeating Gary Cole (who didn't really get anything funny to do), but they just dropped that part of the character. Though I wouldn't want to have missed Ed Begley's cameo, the stuff with the girlfriend went nowhere, too. And I'm still not sure I'm on board with that over-the-top climax, where Rogen suddenly turned bad-ass for no reason. (I think it would have been much funnier if the two of them succeeded in spite of their total ineptness at fighting, shooting, etc.)
All that being said, it's just a pleasure to watch guys like Rogen and Danny McBride and Craig Robinson riff on each other, and I was especially happy to see James Franco remind people that he can, in fact, be funny. (I had to re-watch the entirety of "Freaks and Geeks" to figure that out.) Saul the pot dealer wasn't exactly another Daniel Desario (he's kinder, gentler and less neurotic, plus he has a Bubbe), but he's in the same laid-back vein that drives other characters nuts when things get tense. And the Bill Hader black-and-white teaser was just brilliant, and a reminder that this guy is really underused on "SNL."
Overall, the good parts of "Pineapple Express" outweighed the disappointing ones, and I'm not worried about Apatow overkill yet (I'm looking forward to "Funny People," his next turn as writer/director), but it wasn't as great as I hoped for.
What did everybody else think?