I So Want A Hit Off The Cross Joint

Yep, I saw Pineapple Express at an 11 AM show today, and it was a damn nice bit of fun — if I hadn’t been the one driving to and from the theater, I’d probably have been a bit more stoned for it, which would have only enhanced it. However, before I get to this, a short note about the hiatus: I have one more week on the graveyard and then it’s back to working the swing shift — which means this place will get back to semi-normal.

Now, the obvious SPOILER ALERT, so if you’d like to avoid it, don’t click the jump — as I chronicle the viewing experience.

Something that is ruining the theater experience right now: seeing ads you would see on TV as you file in. I’ve had enough of that stupid E-Trade talking baby; I don’t need that disturbing ad with him trying to hold off on some girl blowing up his BlackBerry. Of course, the other problem is that much of the advertising is for the upcoming TV season on ABC and Fox, and it’s all very depressing to look at when your network’s prime time schedule is utter crap.

The ad sure to raise some eyeballs is one for Levi’s; sadly, I cannot find it on YouTube or I would share it. It basically involves a white hipster dude and chick in their early 20s, obviously, making out while making their way up an NYC walk-up to the chick’s apartment — and admitting lies they told each other earlier (he says he’s not really in a band, she says she doesn’t really work for a label, he says he lives in his car) — and she breaks into an apartment and says she doesn’t live here. The pictures on the wall are of a black family as the two drunk, skinny white people break shit all over the place while fucking.

If that isn’t a gentrification metaphor, I don’t know what is.

This was only Hipster Appeal #1: #2 was the preview for the movie Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which I can smell the stench of failure and demographic targeting all over. Michael Cena is the teen emo dude bass player who can’t get over a girl who dumped him, he runs into said ex at a show, and hooks up with another girl for a “five minute” relationship.

OK, sorry. Gripes done. Now to the actual movie I went to see:

The juxtaposition of an action flick in with the traditional idea of a stoner movie is a bit of a cock-up to begin with, but it was pretty deftly handled by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Essentially, the basic plot details: Rogen is a stoner process server named Dale who buys from Saul (James Franco). Dale sees drug lord Ted Jones (Gary Cole) and cop Carol (Rosie Perez) kill an Asian gang member. and tosses his joint out the window while driving away — and the chase begins, as Ted is the one who sells Saul the drugs he sells to Dale.

The fact that it is Rogen and Franco involved (and making Franco the stoner dealer is an inspired bit to me, by the way), makes every action sequence, whether fist fight, gun battle, or car chase, hilarious. I was laughing during every fight because they were all very improbable, turning cliche action sequences fresh again. The police cruiser chase is riotous because Dale urges Saul to kick his foot through a covered windshield to see as they’re trying to escape from Carol, and of course, it gets stuck for the longest time. You have two bizarre hitmen, a white dude in preppy Gap-wear who keeps complaining about wanting to go home and eat dinner with his wife, and a black dude who never got over the 80s (one of the better cracks was about him wearing British Knights sneakers.)

And then, there is Red — the middleman between Saul and Ted who just has the weirdest wigger and stereotypical gay tics that could be written in; he steals a lot of the scenes. (“You just got killed by a Daewoo Lanos, motherfucker!”)

Gary Cole has become the chameleon of character actors: he’s going from Lumbergh in Office Space to Reese Bobby to Ted Jones, drug kingpin. I wish we’d seen more of him. Perez’s corrupt cop seems kind of just, well there — and that gets to a bigger problem.

My major criticism: the movie is in the same vein of any Rogen-Judd Apatow movie: essentially, Dale Denton is another overgrown man-child with his buddy and dealer Saul; it’s essentially a stoner bromance pic mixed in with action sequences. If you need any more proof of this, we can look at how utterly superfluous and useless Amber Hoard is playing Angie, Dale’s 18-year old girlfriend (still in high school, too — gah!), as well as Ed Begley and Nora Dunn as her parents. Apatow movies have one-dimensional or non-existent female characters (the only exception I’d make is for Catherine Keener in The 40-Year Old Virgin).

If you really need any more proof of this, it’s when Dale and Saul fight, and both of them are broken up and crying about it. Dale calls Angie, who’s hiding out at a hotel because Ted’s hitmen have associated her and her parents with Dale: crying about how much he cares for her, she reciprocates, talks about marriage, and his attitude completely changes and he backslides before hanging up the phone. That’s the end of the interaction with her — unresolved. But this is the knock I always have on Apatow: neither he nor the guys he works with can write female characters for shit. It’s why I hated Knocked Up when everyone else I knew loved the damn thing.

The movie’s still a good way to kill a couple hours, though — because despite this aesthetic complaint that makes Apatow/Rogen movies akin to late 90s/early 00s emo and pop-punk, the movie’s still funny and endearingly goofy.

One Response

  1. I think “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” had a pair of well-developed female characters, though they treated the title character a little harshly.

    Otherwise, though, I completely agree that the female characters are underwritten. Which isn’t necessarily a horrible thing in the sense that it’s fairly common-place for these types of films, but after all the praise he got for “Knocked Up,” it’s worth pointing out.

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