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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Pineapple Express (review)

Here’s yet another excellent argument for the legalization of marijuana. No, not that “it makes shitty movies better,” a “joke” this lazy stoner “comedy” deploys before you can, but that it will prevent us seeing more movies like this one, fetishizing pot and its users as anticonformist outlaws. Imagine if an entire genre of film depicted people who drink alcohol as rebels striking a blow against The Man — it’d be absurd, wouldn’t it? So why should we have to endure the tedious spectacle of Seth Rogen (Step Brothers) enjoying his life of pot-smoking lassitude… at least until he witnesses the opening salvo in a new war between rival dealers and has to go on the run with his own dealer (James Franco: Spider-Man 3)? Now, I think it’s supposed to be funny, the idea of violent pot dealers, of warring gangs of weed pushers, but it probably helps to actually be stoned while watching this to appreciate that. In fact, I wonder if the writers — Rogen, Judd Apatow, and Evan Goldberg — were high themselves when they wrote this, because a major instance of cause and effect is reversed early in the film, not that there’s much a plot to start with, but it kind of ensures that nothing hangs together here, storywise. Also, they stole the bit with the police car from their own Superbad. There are a few amusing moments from Franco — because, you know, he’s an actual actor creating an actual character, while it seems that Rogen can’t even convincingly play himself — but I’m clearly missing the gene needed to get a kick out of a movie the grand theme of which is, “It’s sad when you fall out with your drug dealer; it’s so rare that dealers and buyers can be friends, so you should cherish it — don’t throw it away, man.”

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MPAA: rated R for pervasive language, drug use, sexual references and violence

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb
  • JT

    Excellent review, though a bit short. I kinda wish you went for a full-length review like with other Apatow films that drew so much rage from readers.

    I also thought this bit in the Eye Weekly review summed up my feelings of the movie:

    I’d made my mind up about Pineapple Express long before its final scene: I think it was the bit where a gorgeous blond woman assured Seth Rogen’s character that he was funny and sexy and totally awesome — in a movie co-written by Seth Rogen — that triggered my Bullshit Alarm. But seeing the aforementioned writer-star breakfasting in a diner with co-stars James Franco and Danny McBride, all ostensibly in character, chewing over waffles and the awesome stupidity of their adventures (you know, just like you and your friends totally would after the movie) prompted actual rage.

    I saw Rogen on The Daily Show last night and I hate him more than ever now.

  • Jeff

    Strong word…HATE. Do you understand its meaning, probably not. You just like to spew from your anonymous soap box.

    Really short and poorly written review. Obviously your not the target market, but saying his other movies are bad obviously shows you aren’t likely to change your stubborn ways about this flick.

    I am excited to see it and hope James Franco does really well and helps him to get back from his less than stellar Spiderman performance.

    Hating on pot heads though? Saying there is no alochol type movie that tries to stick it to the man…what are you…HIGH? Watch any college movie ever (Animal House works) it is nearly all drinking and getting messed up. Good job…missing the point.

  • GK

    This movie was by far the best comedy of the summer. It was always funny, even during the action. If the last scene “prompted actual rage”, you are the one with emotional problems. Their adventures were awesomely stupid, but if you didn’t want to see that, why did you go?

  • Dan

    The simple fact that you say that “Expelled” is a film worth watching shows that your opinion cannot be trusted. In fact, it shows that you have no intelligence if you actually liked that piece of fundamentalist propaganda. As for this movie, it’s clear you’re one of those idiots who thinks that simply because weed is illegal it is worse than Alcohol. Every teen/college movie is about alcohol. Animal House, Dead Man on Campus, Can’t Hardly Wait, 10 Things I Hate About You, American Pie, Beerfest are all movies that have plots where drinking is a major purpose of the film. Seth Rogen has become one of the most successful comedy actors for a reason.

  • Claudia

    It looks like Jeff and Co. forgot to take their happy pills today. Of course you are partially to blame for their ire, MaryAnn. I mean really, expressing your opinion on your own website? You’ve got some nerve.

  • MaryAnn

    The simple fact that you say that “Expelled” is a film worth watching shows that your opinion cannot be trusted. In fact, it shows that you have no intelligence if you actually liked that piece of fundamentalist propaganda.

    Um, did you actually read the review?

    As for this movie, it’s clear you’re one of those idiots who thinks that simply because weed is illegal it is worse than Alcohol.

    Really? No: *really*? Is that what you got from what I wrote, which is, in fact, exactly the opposite of what I think?

    Maybe pot really is as bad as the idiot prohibitionists insist it is, if this is how badly it fucks with the brains of users.

  • JoshDM

    I’m TELLING you. Somewhere along the line, Franco lost a bet to Rogen. Probably during their time on Freaks and Geeks.

  • Chris

    Mary Ann,

    It has become obvious to me that in your eyes Seth Rogen can do no good and that Judd Apatow can only deliever when he produces movies that do not involve the main characters from Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared as the movie’s protagonists. I sometimes wonder since you have delcared you are big fan of both of those shows that you use that love to squash these movies since they dont live up to the original products that you cherished. I admit both of those shows were so innocent, cute and honest that I wonder why more TV producers dont follow Apatow’s lead.

    That said now all his movies (produced, written or directed) have taken a very adult tone and that is precisely why the most of us still love his work. His actual directing pieces have characters that devleop and show feelings just like the TV show while also getting more risky in terms of physical comedy and drug use.

    That said, I did think this wasnt the strongest movie from Rogen, but to be fair that’s not a bad thing. Weather you like him or not this guy has been one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood (40 Yr Old, Knocked Up, Superbad, Horton Hears a Who) and he’s no different than most comedy actors. He plays a certain type of character and he plays them well. Ferrell does the idiot ego-centrical male, Carey does the over the top physical comedy and Carrell does the outcast. Rogen does the stoner guy.

    The reason this film doesnt reach the levels of his previous films though is simply that it runs about 20-30 minutes too long. Maybe it was the only way to keep the plot together, or maybe the director needs a better editor. The jokes themselves are great and Danny McBride only gets funnier everytime I see him in a movie. This is probably the best performance from Franco who even on Freaks and Geeks I never really liked. Maybe Apatow will cast him in something else and this guy will find his nich in Hollywood like Rogen and Seagal have.

    All in all its a good movie if your a Rogen fan or just a fan of stoner movies. I will be looking forward to October to see what you have to say on Zach and Miri, maybe your hate for Rogen only extends to Apatow movies. From what I gather you seem to appreciate Smith films, though it appears you never reviewed any of the Clerks movies (WTF?)so it will be interesting to see if Smith can mold Rogen into a character you actually enjoy for 90-120 minutes.

  • MaryAnn

    Why is it so important that I like Rogen?

    I think you’re misunderstanding that there’s a difference between “bankable actors” and “actors who happen to be in films that make a lot of money.” No one went to see *40 Yr Old,* *Knocked Up,* *Superbad,* or *Horton Hears a Who* because of Rogen’s involvement in them. Well, maybe his mother did, but no one else.

  • it fascinates me that idiot films like this one and “Knocked Up”, generate more comments and passion than many other types of movies reviewed on this site. i think that’s a commentary on … something. not sure what. nothing good, or flattering, or hopeful for the intelligence of our future citizens.

  • Chris

    Mary Ann,

    I never said you had to like him, but anyone who has followed the trail of comment posts on your website for every movie of his and it easy to see that you have made the decision that you in fact do not like him. You even admit this at the top of the page and I have no problem with that. Now if your telling me though that no one went to go see Knocked Up because of Seth Rogen then your just being blind and seeing that he penned Superbad one has to say that he is a cheif reason why that movie did so well. Are you telling me Mary Ann that if Rogen signed on to a project it wouldnt help push it through the development stage and into actual production? That if he sent a script to Columbia that they wouldnt commisson it to be a film? Come on Mary Ann! Every movie this guy has been attached to so far as either a supporting actor (40 Yr. Old, Horton Hears a Who, Superbad), a main character (Knocked Up) or a writer (Superbad) has made over $100 million and with the exception of Horton, they have all been R-Rated comedies and prior to coming out were all expected to only make between $30 – 50 million. He is a draw in more ways than one just as Mr. Apatow and Steve Carrell are (though to be fair is big buget movies usually make a little less than producers would have liked). Three years ago the man would have never been able to get this made, now it will be number one movie this weekend. Come on Mary Ann be fair to the guy and just say he can draw in money. I hate Will Smith and even I have to admit he’s been the best at that over the past decade.

  • Chris

    What a fool I’ve been, I forgot Kung Fu Panda!

  • Allen Darrah

    “No one went to see *40 Yr Old,* *Knocked Up,* *Superbad,* or *Horton Hears a Who* because of Rogen’s involvement in them. Well, maybe his mother did, but no one else.”

    My wife did. She’s crazy about the guy… has been since Freaks and Geeks.

  • i still don’t get the point of chris’s diatribe: WTF has making money, or being a box office draw, got to do with whether a movie is *worth* seeing?

  • Kevin

    Green said he watched Tango & Cash a lot to prepare for this. So keep that in mind. It feels more like Blues Brothers or Raising Arizona, which incorporated weird action scenes into a comedy structure. This didn’t feel like a stoner movie the way Cheech n Chong does. It’s a B-level action film that has potheads as main characters. The review and discussion here are all over the place and seem to miss the point. This isn’t an homage to 80s action movies, it IS an 80s action movie, spruced up with humor and inspired visual touches. When accepted on those terms, I think you would all enjoy it more. Interpret how you will; this is only my take.

  • Chris

    Bronxbee,

    Very simple, no matter how much Mary Ann rallies against Seth, America has chosen not to agree with her and it shows through the box office. People like Seth Rogan. They think he’s funny. They apparently think he’s great a picking movies and they enjoy seeing them even if they are crude in nature about 75% of the time. While Mary Ann is very much entitled to her opinion on the movie my second diatribe is more responding to her statement that he just chooses movies that happen to make a lot of money. That statement is not true. The guy is bank, just like Judd Apatow. For the time being at least whatever these two touch turns to gold not only critically, but box office wise as well. No one just happens to do that, they do it because they play to there strengths and Americans find those strengths to be highly entertaining.

  • midas also had a golden touch — didn’t make what he touched valuable. golden shit, is still shit.

  • President Abraham Lincoln

    yeah, but it’s, y’know, gold.

  • Accounting Ninja

    The only reason I even come here is because Mary Ann DOESN’T like all the bullshit that 90% of people swallow. (Though I haven’t seen this movie, yet.) She has critical thinking skills.

    Come on, think for yourself. Just because everyone in the world laughs at something doesn’t mean you have to, and it doesn’t mean that you should feel bad for not laughing. If you liked the movie on its own merits, so be it, but your primary arguments seems to be:

    1)It’s really really popular, makes lots of money, and “everyone” thinks it funny. (Therefore dissenting opinions must be defective,)
    2)Mary Ann is just biased against Rogen personally, so her “vendetta” makes her opinion unreliable.

    I don’t like Adam Sandler movies. Nearly all of them I hate (I haven’t seen “Punch Drunk” or “Spanglish”-only his, ahem, comedies.) Someone could attempt to descredit me by saying since I hate nearly every Adam Sandler movie, I must therefore hate the man himself, so I hate the movie just because Adam’s in it.

    Um, no. All those movies just suck to me. That’s it. If another actor had been playing the same characters, I think I would still hate them.

    Anyway, point being, it’s a cheap tactic to draw attention away from her valid points.

  • StruckingFuggle

    “Very simple, no matter how much Mary Ann rallies against Seth, America has chosen not to agree with her and it shows through the box office. People like Seth Rogan. ”

    Er… How do you attribute the success of those movies to peoples like of Seth Rogan?

  • Kevin

    “No one went to see (…) *Knocked Up,* (…) because of Rogen’s involvement in them.”

    I’m sorry, but are you high? The whole marketing campaign for that one was about the Rogen, his big goofy mug was on all the posters!

  • Rykker

    Rogen said the other night on The Daily Show that he has burned through his stash of material; that everything we’ve seen from him so far was conceptualized when he was a kid, and Pineapple Express was the last of those ideas.
    So he’ll have to start fresh from this point forward, and I’d be willing to bet that he goes the way of Shyamalan, and tanks, big-time.

  • Chris

    Ninja,

    Obviously like bronxbee you missed my first post. My first post includes my review of the movie. If you dont want to scroll up I’ll paraphrase for you, I liked it but didnt think it was the strongest movie Seth had been in. The second post to which you are replying towards is a response to a comment to which Mary Ann made on my first post. That comment was:

    “Weather you like him or not this guy has been one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood (40 Yr Old, Knocked Up, Superbad, Horton Hears a Who)”

    Mary Ann made the argument that he is not bankable, I simply responded to that statement.

    I am well aware of Mary Ann’s bias against Seth Rogen. For the most part I dont have a problem with that, though I do like critics who are able to put that bias aside. I challenged Mary Ann to do that with Seth’s next movie, Zak and Miri, since it is a Kevin Smith film and from what I gathered from her reviews she mostly enjoys his movies.

    Now as far as valid points go Mary Ann didnt really make too many points here as she has with his and Apatow’s other movies. She just states she doesnt like the movie because Seth Rogen plays himself and the idea of a movie about how great pot is and going against the man is just dumb and beneath her level of thinking (though superhero movies with a terrible origin story are not). Usually she just complains that guys shouldnt be this or the movie is to cruel on its main character because he going through a breakup. I argue to Mary Ann usually that these characters though are more real than most. Peter being the guy who cant give up the lost girlfriend in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Seth and Evan the two kids who just long to be popular if for only one night.B.Stone the lazy stoner who knocks a girl up and has to decide if he wants to grow up. And finally Andy the shy 40 yr old that just wants someone to love him for who he is. Of course not all of these are Seth Rogen films that he is the main attraction in but they all involve Judd Apatow and Mary Ann has bashed them all. And even now with this movie I find Seth and Franco’s characters to be believable. Dale Denton is the typical stoner. He has an easy job. He has a job that doesnt require random drug tests. He doesnt want to commit in a relationship. All he wants is to be able to get his fix in and relax after a long day of work.

    Finally I am also not a huge fan of Sandler, but if you enjoy PT Anderson movies, check out Punch Drunk Love and you should also give The Wedding Singer and Spanglish a shot (though as usual Tea Leoni’s voice is annoying). Those are three movies where he doesnt take to his usual formula.

  • MaryAnn

    Chris, if you’ve been reading this site for any length of time, you know that I hate Sandler too, in general, except I haven’t been afraid to admit when I DIDN’T hate him: like in the recent *Zohan.” Ditto Will Ferrell, whom I generally hate but am delighted to discover has made a few movies that I actually like.

    If and when Seth Rogen makes a movie that I like, and/or that I like him in, I will be overjoyed to say so. I LOVE being surprised.

    As for the bankability of Rogen… when Rogen opens a movie that doesn’t pander to the usual stereotypes his movies pander to, and that movie opens big, then we can talk about him being bankable. Bankable stars open almost any kind of movie on the power of their name alone. It wasn’t *Rogen’s* mug on that *Knocked Up* poster that drew in audiences: it was that title, the concept, and the fact that it was a regular old sclub it was all happening to that drew in audiences. It could have been another regular old schlub on the poster, and the same thing would have happened.

    Oh, and one more thing, Chris:

    Very simple, no matter how much Mary Ann rallies against Seth, America has chosen not to agree with her and it shows through the box office.

    I don’t give a shit what the rest of America thinks. I really don’t.

  • Chris

    Mary Ann,

    I care less what you think of Sandler, I’m not a huge fan, but it’s more because I see his potential and instead he wastes it on comedy with no depth or story.

    Can you say though that you will go into any movie of his that you know he is the chief actor and not feel that watching this movie is more of a chore or a hardship of your job instead of saying well lets see what you can do Seth?

    As far as bankabilty debate, catering to a stereotype is exactly what the movie industry is about. Come on Mary Ann! Three years ago there was no big money market for R-Rated comedies. 40 yr. Old Virgin comes out and makes $109 million and as far as memorable momments what is the most quoted momment of the movie? The your so gay exchange between Paul Rudd and who, thats right Seth Rogen. Fast forward two years later, based on the sucess of 40 yr. old Smith has released Clerks II the previous summer and like all other R-Rated comedies not named 40 yr old, fails to make more than 30 million despite it being a sequel and getting excellent reviews. Despite that Apatow deciedes to release Knocked Up in June staring Seth Rogen, a guy who is completely unknown unlike Steve Carell and is only been seen my the mass public in 40 yr. old virgin. The movie makes 148 million. Seth then takes the writers chair and opens his R-Rated written comedy in the same slot that 40 yr. old had and it makes 122 million and makes Jonah Hill who has been doing major motion pictures for over five years into a household name. Want more proof just how much this guy is bank, the song in the trailer for Pineapple Express, M.I.A.’s “PaperPlanes” is now 16th on the Billboard Hot 100 even though the album came out with that single last June. James Franco is about to have his most successful film not named Spiderman. Danny McBride will probably find that this coupled in with his appearence in Tropic Thunder will help boost dvd sales of his movie “The Foot-Fist Way”. Add in the smart choices of Kung Fu Panda and Horton Hears a Who and it is easy to see that this guy knows how to draw money and fame not only to himself but those he works with. I can almost guarentee you that Zak and Miri will be Kevin Smith’s highest grossing film and definelty his biggest opener and it will be because it has Seth Rogen’s name on it.

    Finally, I never said you should care, but hey at least understand your in vastly small minority on Rogen. Everyone has there own tastes but just realize that your views may not be the views of the many and that does not mean that either you or that vast majority are highly superior than the other, it just means your both not seeing something that the other side does.

  • MaryAnn

    I know I’m in a minority, Chris, which I’ve said many times. And I. Do. Not. Care.

    And I don’t need a history lesson from you, nor do I need you to explain to me how Hollywood works. I know how these movies have performed. You clearly just don’t want to hear that they may have performed so well for a reason different than the one you believe.

  • Chris

    Come on Mary Ann,

    No reason to bring teeth into this just because you know I have valid points and the idea that he just somehow gets put in movies that make money doesnt hold up as well as you would like. Yes there are other reasons too, personally I like the idea that they are good movies, you though would never accept that argument and seeing that it based on personal taste instead of solid numbers and facts, there is no reason to debate that.

    Way to avoid my question, I guess that answers my question.

    Also for the record I also loved WALL-E, The Dark Knight, Charlie Bartlett, The Counterfeiters, The Bank Job and Americian Teen while loathing Swing Vote, The Happening and Rambo meaning that I usually agree with your reviews, I guess that’s why I’m still generally shocked when you give Apatow/Rogen movies in general bad reviews.

  • MaryAnn

    What question did I avoid?

  • JoshB

    Chris, you seem to have ZERO idea what film criticism is for. It’s not MaryAnn’s job to tell you what you want to hear. She posts her opinion, and you as the reader are supposed to take from that whatever is useful to you.

    The question of Rogen’s bankability is totally irrelevant for the simple reason that MaryAnn doesn’t care. It doesn’t factor into her opinion.

    If you like Rogen’s movies then hot damn! Go watch them, laugh at and enjoy them. Her not liking them shouldn’t take anything away from your experience. This crusade you’re on to prove her opinion invalid is bizarre and pointless.

  • Chris

    Mary Ann,

    Can you say though that you will go into any movie of his that you know he is the chief actor and not feel that watching this movie is more of a chore or a hardship of your job instead of saying well lets see what you can do Seth?

    Sorry if it seemed I was putting words in your mouth.

    Josh B,

    You and three other posters missed my point. I have never used that as a reason for her to make her opinion. It was taken out of my original post in which I was simply stating that regardless of what Mary Ann thinks Seth Rogen is a bankable actor, which means he will be around for the forseeable future. She disagreed that he was a bankable actor, and that he just stared in movies that make money. The rest of the posts have been examples that he is a bankable actor and it is because he and Judd have tapped into a comic scene that a large group of Americians based on there spending habits the last three years are embracing when done right, the R-rated comedy. To prove her views wrong would be impossible as she doesnt think the idea of a dealer and his client being friends as being funny. I have nothing wrong with that view, it’s not mine but she can say that too anyone she pleases and regardless of what she writes I will most likely fall intune to the jokes of Seth Rogen movies because I see a lot of those characters and there personalities in my own friends (kind of tragic when you put it that way lol). I will say this though, if you are a critic and you do post your opinion and allow comments on that opinion you should be willing to take the backlash of those who disagree, which Mary Ann does and that is probably what I enjoy most about her site. It’s what makes her unique.

  • Accounting Ninja

    This insistance that her supposed “bias” against Rogen will predispose her to knee-jerk-pan all of his movies is baseless. She has not shown herself to be inflexible in this way, as is proven by the numerous times she has been surprised to not hate a film. Chris, you refuse to acknowledge that which is obvious to anyone who’s read a substantial amount of her work. I mean, she enjoyed Step Brothers. Even I predicted she’d hate that one! (Even we readers are occasionally surprised!)

    Also, this is not a freakin’ jury. She doesn’t need to remain completely objective. This is the subjective world of art (film) and is entirely based upon tastes and to some degree, bias and preferences. Mary Ann has never made any claims to the contrary. But this STILL doesn’t matter, as she is not a dogmatic type (see above).

    I come to Mary Ann’s site to read HER unique perspective, even if I don’t always agree. For instance, I generally enjoyed 40 Year Old Virgin, despite some annoying flaws.

  • Accounting Ninja

    And the whole “bankable” thing just needs to be put to rest.
    You say, “Seth Rogen is a bankable actor, which means he will be around for the forseeable future.”

    Then MAJ will continue to hate his movies if they are all like this! Even Tom Hanks, who has more “bankability” in his little finger than the Rogens of the world have in their whole bodies, is not immune to MAJ’s criticism if he makes a shitty movie.

    She doesn’t have to say, “Well, the movie sucked in every way possible, but props to Toms Hanks for being so very bankable.”

    Seems like you are in a “potatoes, potahtoes” kind of argument. Getting stuck on the semantics of what “bankable” means and what it should mean to MAJ’s opinion is pointless.

    (“bankable” count: 6)

  • MaryAnn

    Can you say though that you will go into any movie of his that you know he is the chief actor and not feel that watching this movie is more of a chore or a hardship of your job instead of saying well lets see what you can do Seth?

    Ah, Chris, you think I *avoided* this question? When I’ve gone out of my way to point out to you that I have, more than once, been able to overcome my predispositions regarding actors and genres?

    If you need me to spell it out for you — again — I will: Yes, every fucking movie that Seth Rogen makes from now on, I will go into thinking, “Jesus H. Christ on a bicycle, I cannot stand the work this man has done lately,” until I discover a film of his that I *do* like, and then I’ll be wondering, with each subsequent film, whether he’ll make me like him again, or whether it’ll be more of the same old shit. But my predisposition to hating his work will not stop me from enjoying his work when it is warranted. As it has not stopped me from doing the same thing with Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell.

    I’ll tell you this for free, though: I met Will Ferrell recently, and I found him to be a smart, funny, charming, gentle man. I really, really liked him, on a personal level. But I still think *Anchorman* and *Semi-Pro* are shit. So, you know, it’s nothing personal, okay?

    She disagreed that he was a bankable actor, and that he just stared in movies that make money.

    Again, Chris, you are failing to appreciate that we do not agree on the definition of “bankable.” By your definition, yes, Rogen is a “bankable” star. By the definition that most of Hollywood uses, he isn’t.

  • President Abraham Lincoln

    I’m bankable. My face is on the five dollar bill. So there!

  • Chris

    Ninja,

    I very much understand that MAJ will continue to hate his movies if they are in this tone, in fact I probably wouldnt accept less as I always know what review I want to read first whenever one of his movies is released. Sorry if I decided to get into a discussion on bankabilty after she responded to my intial post which was a reply to her review and then be engaged by two other posters on the same mistep that you are making, this idea that I think bankability should matter to her opinion. I couldnt agree with you more on the fact that bankability should not factor into her opinion and I have said that now a couple of times. Her view are her views.

  • Chris

    Mary Ann,

    I guess that answer will have to be good enough and as I have said before, I hope Kevin Smith gives you a Seth Rogen movie you can enjoy.

    As far as my dictionary goes bankable stars of today would be Will Smith, Johnny Depp, Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, Leo, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Ben Stiller (I’m sure there are others I am not thinking of). No matter what these stars movies make there money back and then some. Will Smith I would say over the past 10 years has been the most bankable actor and before him was probably Tom Cruise.

  • MaryAnn

    You’re still not getting it, Chris. Johnny Depp is not “bankable.” *Pirates of the Caribbean* is bankable. Seth Rogen is not bankable. Movies about overgrown adolescents doing juvenile things are bankable.

    Yes, Will Smith is bankable. So is Brad Pitt. Julia Roberts is probably past her bankability. Possible Tom Hanks, too.

    Bankable means this: You nothing about a movie — nothing at all, not what genre it is, not who else is starring it, nothing — but you will go see it because SUPERSTAR XYZ is in it.

    That doesn’t apply to Seth Rogen. Bankable stars are known to *everyone,* even people who don’t go to movies. Your mother knows who Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt and George Clooney are. It’s unlikely she knows who Seth Rogen is.

  • Chris

    Mary Ann,

    I get that Seth is not a bankable actor to older generations, but to those who are teens or in there 20’s he is. Also how is the experience of pregnancy a “juvenile thing”? Is he elite as Will Smith, hell no! But like I said, more people will likely go see Zak and Miri because he is in it. I agree that Tom Hanks is past his bankability. Johnny Depp though? Come on he’s done a movie about Pirates, one about a chocolate factory, one about the creator of Peter Pan and one on a singing serial killer and all killed at the theater. People will go see movies just because Johnny Depp is in it unless it is a movie that gets no promotion (The Libertine). Seth has a way to go and his bankability can change either way, but as far as I view it for now it’s only on the up and up.

  • Accounting Ninja

    “I’m bankable. My face is on the five dollar bill. So there!”

    Hee hee. Leave it to Honest Abe to inject some levity into Serious Business.

  • Everyone Else

    Chris,
    Geez– you are a “last word” freak. Let it go.

    Ideally this would be a space where people– who have seen the movie– get to agree, disagree, or discuss MaryAnn’s review. But when one person takes over and drives the thread out of town on a tangent, well, it’s just not cool.

    Don’t hog the blog.

  • MaryAnn

    how is the experience of pregnancy a “juvenile thing”

    If it makes you feel good, Chris, to misintepret what I say, you go right ahead. But if you don’t realize that any experience can be “juvenile” depending on how the experiencer, you know, experiences it, then you’re a lot younger than I already think you are.

  • sh

    I really enjoyed this movie. Not the greatest, but I laughed out loud quite a few times.

    I’ve never seen an Apatow movie before. I’ve never seen a Seth Rogan movie. Only watched maybe 1 ep of Freaks and Geeks. I don’t smoke pot, don’t care if it’s legal or not, don’t particularly seek out or enjoy stoner films. So none of that factored in my reaction. Make of that what you will.

    You wrote: “I’m clearly missing the gene needed to get a kick out of a movie the grand theme of which is,“It’s sad when you fall out with your drug dealer; it’s so rare that dealers and buyers can be friends, so you should cherish it — don’t throw it away, man.”

    I’d say the theme (put forth only semi-seriously, and often mocked at the same time) is more like “It’s sad when you fall out with your buddy, it’s rare to find a good one, so you should cherish it.” It was really more of an 80s buddies-on-the-run comedy, gone all wonky because the leads are incompetent idiots (because they smoke too much pot, which Rogen’s character even points out in the film).

    I only hit this site occasionally (once every month or three), but when I do, I usually dig your reviews, (even when I disagree with them). This one seemed to me off the mark, but what the hey. Everyone’s got an opinion and all that.

    Don’t let jerky comment thread folk get you worked up. It’s not worth it.

  • John O.

    As entertaining as I think Pineapple Express looks, I’m a bit saddened that David Gordon Green is moving away from his wonderful and intimate little character studies. I loved All the Real Girls and especially Undertow. One more promising talent swallowed by the big industry?

  • MBI

    This review seemed overly short and off-the-mark to me too, until I actually watched the movie. I think the movie’s okay, I liked it more than MaryAnn did. But really: There’s nothing to say about it, it’s funny in parts but it’s no Big Lebowski or anything. Unlike the best stoner comedies, it’s not a celebration of pot, it doesn’t let itself get truly crazy and it never makes its aimless nature an artistic choice (like The Big Lebowski). Honestly, there’s a whole lot of nothin’ there. Does not hold up at all compared to Up in Smoke, Bill & Ted, Dude Where’s My Car, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, etc.

  • Alby

    Hi, MaryAnn. I guess as a disclaimer, I’m an avid reader and occasional commenter here. Like you, I enjoy turning a critical eye to film, and like you I don’t care what the rest of the country (or even world) thinks about a movie if I think it blows.

    I also don’t read your reviews in order to form my own opinion; I read them because I enjoy your take on movies I both like and dislike, regardless of whether our opinions match (and I kind of think people who don’t enjoy your reviews shouldn’t read them).

    That being said, I do feel that you have been unfair in your review of Pineapple Express, no matter what you or I or anyone thinks of Seth Rogan. I declined to watch Superbad and Knocked Up because they didn’t seem like anything remotely resembling movies I would enjoy. But I took a chance on Pineapple Express, and thought it was hilarious. Which is not to say that you should too, but I admit feeling disappointed by your review upon reading after having seen the film.

    What I liked about Pineapple Express was that it was so reminiscent of the juggernaut of conversation that a couple of stoned (as plausibly from sleep-deprivation as dope)friends might have about making a movie: “The hero should have a girlfriend!” No, not just a girlfriend, a super-hot high school girlfriend!” It’s the ridiculousness of it all that is so funny. And I guess I found your review to be more heavy-handed than light-hearted, which is maybe what some of the other comments here are trying to communicate.

    I watched Pineapple Express at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. Austin movie audiences are not exactly rubes, and although the reactions of the theatergoers would not positively influence my opinion while watching a bad movie, I did find it telling that nearly everyone was roaring with laughter throughout. If a bunch of jaded hipsters can lighten up during Pineapple Express, it might be worth keeping an open mind about.

  • MaryAnn

    They serve alcohol at the Drafthouse, don’t they? I’m sure that helps as much as pot would.

    I do feel that you have been unfair

    All I’m doing is offering my opinion. In what way is that “unfair”? Conversely, how do you suggest that I go about altering my opinion so that it coincides with everyone else’s?

    I’m not being snide. I honestly did not enjoy this movie, with the exception of a few moments from Franco (which I noted was the case). Would it be more “fair” to pretend to have liked it because I was anticipating that I would be in the minority in not liking it? Really, please explain this. I simply don’t get how my reaction is “unfair.”

    And honestly, I don’t need disclaimers like yours. I really don’t expect everyone to agree with me 100 percent of the time, and I don’t give more credence to the opinions of those who agree with me most of the time over those who don’t. I also don’t need to be sucked up to (not that I think that’s what you were doing). I mean, I’m DELIGHTED to hear that people like what I write, whether they agree with me or not, but it’s really not relevant to a well-supported opinion that is contrary to mine. Which yours is. I appreciate the reasons that you saw to like this flick — I just don’t share them.

    So, yes, almost everyone was roaring at my screening of the film too, but that doesn’t mean that I am unable to “lighten up.” It just means that I don’t find funny the things that all those other people are finding funny. I don’t see how that is unfair. You might think it’s weird, but how is it unfair?

  • Alby

    You may not need disclaimers, but you do offer a space for comment and I feel that there were enough Apatow apologists that I didn’t think my point would be effectively communicated without making a distinction between my thoughts and theirs.

    By unfair, I mean how anyone means it: that your estimation of Pineapple Express overlooks key elements and/or an underlying purpose that would contribute to the film’s humor if you perceived them. It has been my experience that opinions about art, or events, or people are sometimes changed by additional information or a different point of view.

    My suggestion was not to say that a change in opinion was obligatory or should be influenced by the cheering masses, just that from your review it seemed you missed aspects that might have made Pineapple Express funnier to you (from what one can divine from your other reviews). Or maybe not. Fair enough.

    And yes, thank bejebus that they serve alcohol at the Drafthouse :)

  • Now, I think it’s supposed to be funny, the idea of violent pot dealers, of warring gangs of weed pushers…
    –MaryAnn Johanson

    Well, I’m sure the good people of Guadalajara must find that concept to be hilarious…

    And, indeed, even if you confine yourself to the fictional world, it is kinda odd to see this idea being treated as a novelty when one of the main subplots of the last two seasons of the cable show Weeds have involved–you guessed it–violent pot dealers and warring gangs of weed pushers…

    Add to that the fact that Weeds star Mary Louise Wilson is a lot easier on the eyes than Seth Rogen and I’m surprised that the movie is as successful as it is.

  • Oops! I meant Mary-Louise Parker, not Mary Louise Wilson.

    My bad.

  • MaryAnn

    I haven’t seen *Weeds,* but I’d like to.

    your estimation of Pineapple Express overlooks key elements and/or an underlying purpose that would contribute to the film’s humor if you perceived them. It has been my experience that opinions about art, or events, or people are sometimes changed by additional information or a different point of view.

    But how is my not seeing aspects of something “unfair”? I mean: I didn’t see them, if what you suggest is true. It would be unfair if I saw them and refused to take them into account. But they didn’t register for me. Isn’t that as much an element of the film — it fails to make me see something that is supposedly essential to getting it — as it is something purely subjective on my part?

    I also don’t find that explaining humor makes it any funnier. Humor relies on surprise — that’s what makes us laugh. Explaining it can make us understand why we do — or do not — find something funny, but it cannot make it funny. You explaining it to me can make me appreciate what you find funny about it, but it’s not gonna make me suddenly laugh.

  • Krow

    This is one of those movies where you know there was some sort of insider deal. Someone’s kid… someone’s pal… someone’s significant other… something. There’s no way it got ‘green lighted’ on merit. Truly abysmal film making.

  • When I was young, I used to think about writing free-lance film reviews. I came to the conclusion I would HATE the movies if I was forced to go to ones I knew I wouldn’t like (in those days, that would have been anything with Charles Bronson).

    I saw and wound up liking 40-year Old Virgin and really enjoyed Donny Darko, but Seth Rogen made no impression on me in those movies at all. I thought he was awful as a guest host on Saturday Night Live earlier this year. I heard at least one very negative story about his behavior on the set of Zach and Miri here in Pittsburgh (I might go see it anyway as I generally like Kevin Smith’s movies).

    If you look at his upcoming movie list on IMDB, Rogen is a very busy guy.

  • Tyler

    I just wanted to point out to the first commenter that the gorgeous blond woman dumps him because he’s an idiot, so I’d say that’s a remarkably slanted example that is being twisted.

    Honestly, though, Maryann, I’d have to say you were biased against this movie before going in, because of Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow. Despite the fact that the movie, without Rogen or Apatow, would probably still not tickle your fancy, I still think his presence in the movie is a sticking point that anyone with such an aversion just reflexively won’t be able to set aside and ignore, and it probably made your opinion of the film harsher than it should be.

    Regardless, I liked it. For the record, I am extremely anti-drugs and do not want marijuana to get legalized (despite whether or not the drug itself is particularly harmful, I don’t know or care, I just don’t want to have to deal with idiots abusing the law on a daily basis), nor, of course, have I ever been under the influence of marijuana.

  • Tyler

    Or, I guess, I just read on another review that you said you know your biases, so if that’s true and it’s clear to me that both you and I know Rogen is a bias, why see and review the movie? I used to see movies with lights but not links, why not this?

  • Tyler

    Never mind. I’m guilty of doing what I hate: posting a comment without reading all of the others.

    As for this thing about bankability, I don’t really see why in a studio system that constantly plays it safe, you have to open a movie not of your ilk to be “bankable”. All “bankable” says to me is that a studio can count on that person’s films making money, and when most actors do the same kinds of stuff their entire career, how are they not “bankable”, i.e. a safe bet for any studio who wants to make a quick buck?

    To me, someone who can be counted on for anything is more like megastar — Will Smith is a megastar, across the board, all categories. But I’m sure the studio felt it was a sure thing to gamble on Pineapple Express as “from the guys who brought you Superbad” which, being a theater manager, invariably got more than half the audience in the seats.

  • Tyler

    In short (erm): I don’t think Sony would say that the Punch-Drunk Loves, Spanglishes and Reign Over Mes make Adam Sandler a non-bankable star. I would say in today’s Hollywood, as long as someone will do enough stuff that you can rely on, you’ll forgive their passion projects (especially a Johnny Depp type) and let everything else roll in the dough.

  • MaryAnn

    why see and review the movie? I used to see movies with lights but not links, why not this?

    Professional critics don’t automatically avoid all movies they suspect they won’t like. And as I’ve said many times before when this question comes up, I’m always hoping to be proven wrong.

    And I reviewed this because it was a wide release and I knew people would be looking for my review of it. It’s no great mystery.

  • Newbia

    Good review, MaryAnn, but a little short. I was looking forward to reading a huge, angry rant against the movie.

  • MaryAnn

    Geez, I just can’t win, can I? :->

  • WriterGuy

    Listen, MaryAnn…*sigh*–who cares about the underlying morals to a film when you can just kick back, forget about analyzing the damned thing, and just laugh at it for being senselessly hilarious? I just don’t understand you sometimes…Family Guy’s core humor is nearly identical to that of Pineapple Express, and yet you enjoy Blue Harvest and give it the green light…

  • amanohyo

    Writerguy, personal preferences are delicate things, especially when it comes to comedy. Also, different things are… well… different. You could take the same script with the same actors and produce a huge variety of movies to suit (or not suit) all sorts of tastes.

    Heck, you could even take identical footage and re-edit it into all sorts of silly comedies, as youtubers regularly do. Finding some similarities between Family Guy and Pineapple Express in no way means that a person should automatically like both.

    You might as well ask, “you like The Empire Strikes Back, how could you not like Attack of the Clones?” It’s all in the execution, as MA might say.

  • WriterGuy

    I never said MaryAnn should *or hinted that she should* like Pineapple Express because she enjoys the mindless, yet amusing humor of Family Guy…I’m just asking myself “why?” If Family Guy and Pineapple Express both derive their humor from absurd and sometimes pointless scenes during the plotline, well then? If she finds one entertaining, why not the other? From reading her review, I see one of the reasons is because the screenplay is shabby–but I wouldn’t say Family Guy has much witticism or a consistency to their plots–and hey, I’d also go as far to say that it’d help if you were stoned during the idiotic, and often crass jokes that make up a regular Family Guy episode. All I’m saying is, if you’re going to write a decent review you shouldn’t blatantly contradict yourself; in other words, you should always make sure to counteract an obvious contradiction in comedic taste such as this one with sufficient reasoning.

  • MaryAnn

    But I DON’T like *Family Guy.* I liked *Blue Harvest* in spite of that, which my review makes perfectly plain.

    Listen, MaryAnn…*sigh*–who cares about the underlying morals to a film when you can just kick back, forget about analyzing the damned thing, and just laugh at it for being senselessly hilarious?

    Hmm. Perhaps this is because *I did not find PE “senselessly hilarious.”* And *I* just don’t understand how people *can* ignore “underlying morals.”

  • The Fighting Bartender

    Why would anyone analyze a movie that has the sole purpose of mindless entertainment?

    As intelligent as you write MaryAnn, I am surprised that you review movies that you are far too elite intellectually to enjoy. I am new to your reviews, but can honestly say that as soon as I trudged through the first few sentences, I had you pegged as a Starbucks toting, high school scarred, elitist, that through a large vocabulary and excellent grammar, masks the fact that you just simply can’t stand guys that think stupidity is funny or possible guys in general.

    Hmmmm….

    I wonder if I was to dive into other reviews of yours, if the underlying baggage/skeletons would be as visible as they are here.

    Just a thought. I can almost guarantee that your mind was well made up before you sat down to hate this movie.

    I enjoyed it for exactly what it was….mindless humor.

  • amanohyo

    Some people like their humor with an intact mind, Fighting Bartender. Even stupid humor can be clever and/or suprising and original. If you dove into a few more reviews, you’d see that MA enjoyed Talladega Nights, Tropic Thunder, and Walk Hard, all of which are chock full of stupidity.

    Intelligent people who truly love movies want to see new ideas, excellent execution, or both, and they can’t help but analyze any movie, no matter what its stated purpose is. Most people enjoy shutting their brain off from time to time, but we shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time and money to do so.

  • If I was to go to a ballet, I would be incapable of enjoying the performance. Not because it is not a great performance, but because I simply am not designed genetically to enjoy a ballet. Which is exactly why MaryAnn gets so much feedback about these type of movies. Imagine the feedback I would get if I reviewed a ballet.

    That is all I was trying to say.

  • The Fighting Bartender

    I wrote a response pending approval…..

  • this review sucks this guy has no idea what he is talkiing about so what if this is a movie made for stoners and people who smoke all the time so if you dont smoke then obiviously your not going to like it fool

  • Orangutan

    @Seth – If you can’t tell that MaryAnn is not a guy, then you may want to be concerned about the brain damage all that weed has done. However, I suspect you’ll probably just light up, laugh at something shiny and then completely forget about it. Have fun with that. :)

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