Sunday, August 31, 2008

Summer Movies 10: Pineapple Express

After getting delayed in the glut of other movies released around the same time, I finally went to see Pineapple Express last night. I wanted to see this movie in the theatres for two reasons. One, I love dumb stoner movies (see also: Harold and Kumar). Two, I saw both The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up on DVD long after everyone else had seen them and deemed them the funniest movies ever, and I thought my “meh” reaction might have been explained by the movies having impossible hype they couldn’t live up to.

Well, no, it turns out my “meh” reaction was wholly my own. I think Apatow movies are funny but nothing really special. I enjoyed Pineapple Express as it was playing, laughed aloud many times, but the majority of the movie left my head before I hit the parking lot. And I don’t think it’s because the stoner genre is disposable, because my friend and I left Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay quoting the best lines from the movie as we walked, at my friend’s behest since I’m vegetarian, to the nearest White Castle. Months later, the line “Fuck you, donuts are awesome!” will pop into my head and I’ll giggle. So the medium isn’t to blame. Maybe nothing’s to blame and I just don’t “get it” but it’s really hard to say.

Pineapple Express is entertaining enough. James Franco and Seth Rogen are a great odd couple. Rogen plays pretty much the same role he always plays, but Franco is crackling. He clearly has a lot of fun with the role and he can act the hell out of anything he’s cast in.

Normally, I’m very attentive to a lack of female characters in movies, but here it works because I think 90% of the time Apatow is shit at writing women, so the lack of female characters in Pineapple Express actually minimized the damage. I mean, if well-written female characters are not an option, then I’d rather see no females at all. Let the boys do their thing and leave the writing of complex, nuanced female characters to the people who are up to the task.

It’s funny, though, because after I got home from Pineapple Express I was in the mood to watch another movie, so I finally put on my Netflixed copy of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, a Romanian movie set in Communist Romania as two girls try to arrange an illegal abortion. Needless to say, it’s not an easy movie to watch or digest. I’d say it was far less “entertaining” than Pineapple Express by far, but while Pineapple Express had vacated my head as the credits were still rolling, I’ll be thinking about 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days – which is a wonderful, moving, difficult film – for a very long time. I think if Apatow keeps making disposable movies, Hollywood will eventually come to view him as disposable, too. If he wants to stay relevant and stay inside my head for more than the allotted two hours it takes a movie to unspool, he needs to step it up a bit.

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