For many fans of cult 1999-2000 US TV show Freaks and Geeks, tragically killed in its prime by heartless network execs, the resurgance of executive producer Judd Apatow as Hollywood’s King of Comedy is something of a victory for the little guy.
The good news continued in 2008 with the release of the Apatow-produced Pineapple Express as he got closer than ever to a Freaks reunion movie thanks to the pairing of leads Seth Rogen and James Franco.
For those unaware of their heritage this was simply another entry into the ever-growing canon of blokey comedies featuring some combination of the Apatow/Rogen pairing, Superbad, Step Brothers and Knocked Up being some of the more obvious examples.
Pineapple Express introduces Dale Denton (Rogen), process server and pothead who unwittingly witnesses the murder of an Asian man by one of his “customers”, only to find himself on the run with his drug dealer buddy Saul (Franco).
As the two try to decide how they can get rescue the situation they discover they’re being hunted by contract killers who think that Dale is himself a hired gun…
In the commentary for the film, Rogen explains how his plan to make an action-comedy-stoner film met with little enthusiasm from studio execs, and its not hard to see why. With little depth to the leads and a wafer thin plot, Pineapple Express isn’t an easy sell, the presence of two well known faces seemingly its main selling point.
Thankfully Rogen and Franco make a fine pairing, their constant banter, much of it improvised on the day, a vital element in giving the story some originality. Improvisation is a constant from all members of the cast, offering many laugh-out-loud and frankly bizarre moments that help raise the film above many other so-called comedies.
Director David Gordon Green, better known for the drama Snow Angels, handles things competently if unenthusiastically, while the lack of overt incidental music is refreshing. The picture on this Blu-ray transfer is crisp and bright, even if the locations used aren’t always the most glamorous.
One of the better comedies of 2008, Pineapple Express makes a fine partner for that other stoner “classic” Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies and leads to a hope that James Franco decides to do a few more comedies in the future.
The impressive extras on the Pineapple Express Blu-ray include 3 hours of extras, including 15 deleted scenes, 2 blooper reels, 13 featurettes, rehearsal footage and an exclusive game, ‘Ride the Express.’
The commentary involves virtually everyone involved in the film including Rogen, Franco, Apatow, Rosie Perez and the director and producer, as well as various other special appearances. The featurettes offer a nice insight into the ad libbed nature of the film, with various alternate takes of key scenes.
Release Date: 12 January
Certificate: Blu-ray – 18, Single Disc DVD – 15, Two Disc DVD – 18
RRP: Blu-ray – £24.99, Single Disc DVD £17.99, Two Disc DVD £19.99
Running Time: 107 mins (theatrical cut) 113 mins (extended version)