A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, from the opening scene, this "hard R" comedy -- which teens will want to see thanks to the presence of Knocked Up star Seth Rogen -- is suffused in a heavy cloud of marijuana smoke. One of the lead characters is a pot dealer, and the other smokes it habitually; pot is also sold to schoolchildren. There's also lots more violence than in most comedies from producer Judd Apatow, as well as constant strong language (including "f--k," and "s--t"). All of that said, one character does come to regret and reject his pot use, and dope-dealing higher-ups are portrayed as brutal, vicious criminals and murderers.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Process server Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) gets through his tedious work by smoking marijuana -- constantly. He's excited to pick up a powerful new strain of dope called "Pineapple Express" from his dealer, Saul Silver (James Franco). En route to deliver a summons -- coincidentally, to Ted (Gary Cole), the man who supplies the bigger dealer that Saul gets his weed from -- Dale is smoking a joint in his car when he witnesses a murder. Startled, he throws the joint out the window and drives away. But the distinctive quality and scent of the weed means that the killers can -- and will -- track Dale down through Saul. So both of them have to go on the run. ...
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the real-life consequences of drug use. Do you think this movie sincerely depicts the negative consequences of marijuana use, or does it glamorize it and make it seem acceptable, even cool? What message does that send to teens who see the movie? Families can also talk about how this movie is similar to and different from others in the "Judd Apatow school" of humor. Why do you think his style of comedy is so popular?
- In theaters: August 6, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: January 5, 2009
- Cast: Gary Cole, James Franco, Seth Rogen
- Director: David Gordon Green
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive language, drug use, sexual references and violence.
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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