If I had to name the 3 biggest influences of PINEAPPLE EXPRESS they would be The Three Stooges, Bugs Bunny and COMMANDO.
It seems like an odd combination but PINEAPPLE EXPRESS borrows from all three while also infusing new life into the buddy comedy and stoner comedy genres. To add to the strange brew, indie deity David Gordon Green came on board to direct it and Seth Rogen (the world’s most improbable movie star) is the male lead. Who would have ever thought a film would have this combination?
COMMANDO really must have been a gigantic inspiration for this film. The 1985 Arnold Schwarzenegger film was likely not originally intended to be funny. Watching it today, you can’t understand how. The violence is so relentless and over the top and the one liners are so corny that it really seems to be a comedy in disguise. Here’s a sample.
Ok that clip doesn’t really have much to do with the point I’m trying to illustrate. However it was worth it just for that whole drop-the-axe-and-pick-up-your-daughter-before-she-tickles-Arnold-and-they-feed-a-deer scene. This is what I’m talking about:
That scene isn’t so different from the climax of PINEAPPLE EXPRESS. So many people are killed, shot, blown up, stabbed and crushed that the parallel was all I could think about. In the case of the character of Red (the hilarious Danny McBride) it seems nothing can actually kill him. It seems as if the idea was to make an action film driven by violence and put improbable people (Rogen and James Franco) at the epicenter. I believe it was a success.
David Gordon Green does a great job with this material. One of my favorite moments of the film is a montage of Franco and Rogen in the forrest horsing around to a delightful score. There’s likely never going to be another stoner film that contains a scene of such childlike exuberance and innocence but somehow it works perfectly amidst the violence and carnage.
Dale (Rogen) is a process server by day who has to go on the lamb from the mob (lead by Gary Cole) when he witnesses a murder of a drug kingpin who just happens to supply his dealer Saul (Franco). Ed Begley Jr. also shows up in a hilarious cameo performance that I didn’t know he was capable of.
The film is a big step up from the Apatow produced nightmare that is STEP BROTHERS. There’s not much of a story and this is hardly groundbreaking or brilliant comedy but it’s well worth the price of admission. There are small moments of male bonding and attempted growth (though it is always stunted, as demonstrated in Dale’s emotional phone call to his high school girlfriend). It’s a movie designed to watch when you’re high and given those parameters, it is a hit. Be prepared for a whole lot of this humor: