Pineapple Express

The Pineapple Express, Wikipedia informs us, is “a meteorological phenomenon which is characterized by a strong and persistent flow of atmospheric moisture and associated heavy rainfall from the waters adjacent to the Hawaiian Islands and extending to any location along the Pacific coast of North America.”

It is also, the movie Pineapple Express informs us, a rare and special and presumably fictitious strain of marijuana — said to smell, when freshly harvested, like “God’s vagina.”

Now, had this week’s handout from the Judd Apatow motion-picture-comedy empire been about a meteorological phenomenon, it still probably would have found a way to entertain. But it is, of course, about the weed. Expect copious giggles.

The plot is this: A stoner (why, Seth Rogen, of course) and his dealer (James Franco) run afoul of crooked cops and dueling drug lords, then run for their lives. Oh, but they also stop periodically to banter and get baked and become closer friends.

Saul (Franco), the only guy in town dealing Pineapple Express, doesn’t need a real job (perhaps that’s for the best, as he probably couldn’t manage one anyway), but Dale (Rogen) works as a process server; one night, while waiting to deliver a subpoena, or maybe just stalling so he can blaze a little in his car, Dale witnesses a murder. The killers are an obviously corrupt cop (Rosie Perez) and the drug kingpin (Gary Cole) who just happens to be Saul’s supplier–and to witness Dale witnessing him. In his hasty escape, Dale leaves a little of the Pineapple behind–just enough, in fact, for the killers to track him and Saul down and come gunning for them.

Director David Gordon Green’s previous film, Snow Angels, was pretty much the opposite of an action-comedy buddy movie, so in a way Pineapple Express seems like a real achievement.

Well, OK, achievement isn’t the right word. Certainly not in this context. But with Green raising the bar of stylishly composed slapstick, this must be the first movie in its genre with a sheen of real art-house cred. The script, by Rogen and fellow Superbad writer Evan Goldberg, from a story by them and producer Apatow, wanders and digresses and gets a little sloppy at times. But to complain about that is to need to relax.

It’s a movie for boys, mostly, and not surprisingly, but it is commendably sensitive to the nuances of male bonding. Particularly the infantile, lightly misogynistic and glibly violent nuances. True, in more excited scenes, Rogen risks upstaging his own affable deadpan with too much ham, but his chemistry with Franco  (first cultivated years ago in the short-lived, Apatow-produced TV series Freaks and Geeks) goes a long way. And Danny R. McBride, as a (barely) higher-up on the weed chain, steals each of his increasingly ridiculous scenes.

As befits its core creative team, Pineapple Express is sweet and seemingly dumb, but at least smart enough to know how appealing that is. Maybe not a full meteorological phenomenon, but, in its mild way, palpably a force of nature.