Wildly funny and completely inappropriate, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS combines ribald, marijuana-fueled comedy with action and violence. Imagine a Cheech and Chong film directed by Quentin Tarantino, and you'll have a general idea of the feel of the film. Written by star Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who also wrote Superbad, Pineapple Express offers a similar blend of meatheaded male bonding and foulmouthed comedy; of course, in Superbad, the teen heroes were facing humiliation and the opposite sex, not death and dismemberment. (An interesting aside: In a GQ article about Rogen, Pineapple Express producer Judd Apatow offered his own anti-pot take on the film, noting that he feels the movie "is clearly a story about how pot leads to Asian gangs trying to murder you.")
Pineapple Express has plenty of action and broad jokes (a car chase gone wrong is wildly funny), but it's the interplay between Rogen and Franco that makes the film truly worthwhile. Rogen is short-fused, irritated, and frustrated; Franco is so laid back he's nearly in a coma. Both actors shade what could have been one-note performances with nice moments of depth that make the comedy even funnier -- Rogen's Dale steps up and does the right thing on several occasions, while Franco's Saul shows glimmers of self-awareness and self-doubt through the thick haze of reefer smoke he lives in. Director David Gordon Green's prior films (All the Real Girls, Undertow, Snow Angels) have been art-house hits, but Pineapple Express may make him a mainstream success; similarly, it's safe to say that this will be Franco's biggest movie ever without the words "Spider" or "Man" in the title. Pineapple Express's mix of blunts and body count won't be for everyone, but also much more of a movie than it looks like, brilliantly mocking and celebrating buddy-action movies while giving Rogen and Franco great lines and great characters. Funny, funky, and fresh, Pineapple Express may be one of the standout comedies of 2008.