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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I Must Be The Crazy One

So apparently, out off all the folks here in the office who took a toke of Pineapple Express, I was the only one who didn't find it all that entertaining. In fact, I was bored through about 60% of it.

Two things that irked me were the underwhelming plot and the way so many scenes ran long past their expiration date.

What's ironic, is that if this had been straight stoner movie, the lack of a plot and the long scenes would have fit the wacky weed aesthetic that's been a part of the genre since forever. Even before the stoner film came into existence, movies featuring folks like Hope and Crosby or the Marx Bros. were just a string of loosly connected scenes, that had little narrative drive.

However, when you're trying create a stoner-action film, you can't ignore the plot. That's one of the key components of an action film.
The undercooked plot does several things, but its worse offense is that it renders the--equally underdeveloped--villians impotent as a threat.

Which is another problem with the film, so many side characters were never fully formed. They mainly existed to be an obstacle or complication for Rogen and Franco. The girlfriend character and storyline are both useless at best, and insulting at worse. And while I agree that the women characters don't get as much to do in the Apatow films as the men, I wouldn't have thrown out the mysoginistic label. Not until now. Rosie Perez's cop could have been a legndary comic foil, instead of playing second banana to the always awesome--even when the movie sucks--Gary Cole. It's never clear if she's working for or with Cole's Ted Jones. At one point its insinuated that she and Ted Jones might be equals, then they just seem to stop worrying about fleshing that out.

But, my greatest reservation about the film is that they take to long to get Rogen and Franco together, then they spend too little time getting us to understand why Rogen and Franco's bromance is destined to be.

Strangely, Rogen and crew make the same mistake that 99% of bad romantic comedies make. Which is they never give us a cogent reason why these two people would--not should--end up together. And while I could buy Franco having a man-crush on Rogen, it's never articulated why Rogen would call Franco is BFFF by the end of the movie.

You could say they were borrowing from the 80s/90s action film template, in which, for no logical reason, the leading man and semi-leading lady, decide to consumate their relationship in the middle of a gangland war, or after having their car shot to hell and back. The only reason these two people are in a shared predicament is by the hand of fate, and not out of actual choice. In otherwords, if these two people weren't been chased down by a T-7000, would they even notice each other from across a crowded room? Probably not. Actual sexual tension between them goes a long way to believability.

I really wish the first 20 minutes could have just been Rogen and Franco sitting back doing some doobies and doing some actual bonding. Even when they make jokes about a situation being homoerotic, or try to give their bromance a homoerotic subtext for comic effect, it never quite works. While Franco and Rogen work well together, there's no real tension. They're like that couple that gets engaged at the end of their Senior year of college. Everyone knows that its never going to last because they don't actually click. As soon as one of them moves away, one of them will quickly realize how much they aren't jonesing for the other.

I'm not totally down on the movie though. Because that other 40% that didn't bore me was all Franco and Danny McBride. In fact, the McBride/Franco dynamic when they're reminisining about their past adventures should have been the template for the entire movie. And to reinforce that comes the coda: the ending diner scene. Give me two hours of that and we're talking top 20 of stoner films. As is, this film doesn't even come close.

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