Pineapple Express, along with Tropic Thunder, was an R-rated adult comedy heavily hyped during the busy Summer 2008 movie season. This action / humor hybrid certainly developed a following, as evidenced by a thread initiated in DVD Talk's DVD Reviews and Recommendations forum several weeks ago by a reader asking why our site hadn't posted a review of the home video release of the film (it arrived in stores on January 6, 2009). My fellow reviewers Adam Tyner and Paul Mavis explained how this came to be at DVD Talk, so I won't go into detail on that issue. Suffice it to say, this gap is being filled. Michael Zupan finished his detailed review of the blu-ray release of Pineapple Express here, and I'm not the only reviewer who'll be covering the standard disc version for this site.
Speaking of which, let's hop onto the express. Pineapple Express teams up comic actor Seth Rogan with James Franco from the current Spider-man film franchise. Rogan sort of plays another version of the character he often plays in fare like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up: a likeable underachiever. Here, he's a process server named Dale Denton with dreams of becoming a talk radio host. Denton is also a marijuana connoisseur, which has led him to the apartment of Saul Silver (Franco), his new dealer.
Franco is, rather surprisingly, pitch-perfect in this role. His befuddled Saul character is the highlight of the movie, and Franco delivers his lines in a well-timed hazed manner that emphasizes the truly comedic dialogue screenwriters Judd Apatow, Seth Rogan, and Evan Goldberg have written. The character's sad sack pseudo-quest to become friends with Dale is strangely endearing and sympathetic.
Saul sells Dale a very rare species of weed christened the Pineapple Express, and later, when he's on the prowl for his latest victim to be served papers, Dale enjoys his latest purchase. Unfortunately for Dale, however, he's waiting for Ted Jones (Gary Cole), the source of Saul's Pineapple Express, and witnesses Ted shooting a rival. Shaken by what he's seen, Dale makes a not-so-discrete getaway, leaving his half-smoked roach at the scene of the crime. Ted Jones can tell right away what it is, and knows who to track down in order to ensure there are no witnesses. Plus, he has a crooked cop on his side, Carol (Rosie Perez, who I usually find annoying but she's good here). What follows is a comical cat-and-mouse chase that ends in an elaborate slapstick showdown between all the major characters at a warehouse.
Many things work very well in Pineapple Express. As mentioned above, the dialogue is witty - and the action sequences are a lot of fun. Despite the prurient nature of the plot, the characters themselves are likeable. In addition to the actors already named in this review, Danny McBride should also be mentioned as a Lazarus-like dealer who keeps coming back from the dead to help Saul and Dale after he initially sells them out.
Unfortunately, at 112 minutes for the theatrical version and 117 minutes for the extended cut, Pineapple Express does come across as rather bloated. I felt that maybe 20 minutes of unsuccessful plot points could have been excised. The opening, for instance, begins with military experimentation on marijuana conducted decades ago. While the concept is funny, its execution is anything but, and thus the movie begins with a dubious opening. There's also a sub-plot involving Dale dating a high school senior that doesn't fit well with the rest of the movie. A culminating scene with Dale having dinner with the girl's parents disappoints as it lacks the potential comedy punch that the idea offered. The fact that the girl's parents are played by Ed Begley Jr. and Saturday Night Live's Nora Dunn further this disappointment.
Despite a few threads that don't work, Pineapple Express fires on all cylinders when it focuses on Dale Denton and Saul Silver's predicament. It's rude and crude, and highly (no pun intended) recommended.
Sony and Columbia Pictures give Pineapple Express an anamorphic widescreen presentation in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Details and colors are strong and vibrant, and there doesn't seem to be much of anything in the artifacts department that's noticeable. All around, this is a nice-looking DVD!
Two audio tracks are offered on this disc: English and French. Both are Dolby Digital 5.1, with the English track serving as the default. No complaints with the audio presentation here. Dialogue comes across well, while action sequences are dynamic and loud.
Optional subtitles are available in English and French.
Well, this is a 2 disc "Special Edition," which means there are a lot of extras. So, let's get rolling on them. . .
Two trailers precede the main menu on disc one for Paul Blart: Mall Cop and The Wackness. A Previews submenu offers access to these trailers as well as additional trailers for Step Brothers, Superbad, and Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach.
More significant extras on the first disc include Extended & Alternate Scenes (9:59) featuring four such scenes - Private Miller, Forest, Asians in Van, and Diner - playable separately or collectively via a Play All option. A Gag Reel (4:56) is about what you'd expect with flubs and outtakes from the movie's production. The Making of Pineapple Express (21:08) is the typical featurette providing background on the movie with comments from the cast and crew. All of these extras are presented in anamorphic widescreen.
Finally, disc one is rounded out by a feature-length commentary track with what's advertised as "filmmakers and cast." There are quite a number of participants, including actors Seth Rogan, James Franco, Ed Begley Jr., and Danny McBride, with producer Judd Apatow and director David Gordon Green. I may have left someone off the list, so I'm sorry about that. In any case, a random sampling suggests the track is lively and humorous.
If these extras aren't enough to satisfy your craving for bonus material, there's a whole second round of them on disc two. A spot explaining how to install the digital copy of Pineapple Express on a PC or PSP, a commercial heralding the blu-ray format, and a trailer for The International precede the main menu on this go-round. The latter two are also accessible via a Previews link along with trailers for Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, Lakeview Terrace, Quarantine, Resident Evil: Degeneration, The House Bunny, and Passengers.
More important is a slew of bonus content. Deleted Scenes (3:27) features three cut scenes: Elevator, Food's Still Warm, and Troy. Extended & Alternate Scenes (11:08) shares the same title as an extra on disc one but has different scenes. Why they weren't combined together is beyond me. In any case, these scenes are Prairie Dog, Kids Buying Weed, Police Liaison, and Angie's Hotel Room. Both of these scene collections are playable individually or collectively through Play All options.
The Action of Pineapple Express (12:20) is similar in style and content to The Making of Pineapple Express on the previous disc and feels like it could have been edited into that featurette. Phone Booth (6:25), Line-O-Rama (3:29), and Direct-O-Rama (3:48) provides access to some behind-the-scenes work on the development of dialogue. Item 9 (4:18) is a fun parody of the old black and white educational shorts, with a couple surprising cameos. Saul's Apartment (13:46) is another fun short, with several guest stars popping in to talk to Saul in his apartment. Raw Footage (32:41) is exactly that. Begley's Best (5:45) is a funny short involving Ed Begley Jr. Red and Jessica's Guide to Marriage (4:13) is another short - that's not so funny - with Danny McBride. Injury Report (4:57) goes over the injuries suffered by the actors in the making of the movie. Stuntmaster Ken (3:13) is yet another comedic short from one of the actors in the movie. Rehearsal 03/06/07 Police Liaison (5:41) and Table Read 3/4/06 (8:38) are early looks at the actors reviewing their roles. Comic Con Panel (7:34) has some footage from the cast and crew's appearance at the Comic-Con. And lastly, the red band trailer for Pineapple Express, the one that utilizes MIA's "Paper Planes," is available in anamorphic widescreen.
While a sizeable 20 minutes of bloat and extraneous plot points could have been edited out, Pineapple Express is nonetheless an entertaining druggie action comedy. James Franco is pitch-perfect as Saul, the weed dealer looking for a friend. Loaded with extras, the 2-disc unrated special edition comes highly recommended.