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Life in the Express Lane: Stoner action flick with a conscience 

Truth is, we ran out of waterboards. The Apatow comedy train chugs along with a new installment, Pineapple Express.

You cannot get more of a skeletal plot here. Dale Denton (Seth Rogen), a 26-year-old process server with an inexplicable high school girlfriend, witnesses a murder while on the job and exits the scene leaving a roach of Pineapple Express, the ultimate killer weed. Turns out his subpoena target is the dealer that supplies his connection, Saul (James Franco). Soon they're on the run from cops, drug crime warlords, evil Asians, and whoever else crosses their path. Almost all the dialogue seemed or was ad-libbed, reminiscent of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," but lacking Larry David's Seinfeld-esque plot twists.

I have to admit there are some redeemable qualities James Franco was excellent as the weeded-out dumber-than-dirt dope dealer. As of late, Franco seems typecast to play the guy possessed with angst and inner turmoil in most of his characters (Spiderman, Annapolis) in contrast to his slacker role on Apatow's late 1990s television gem Freaks and Geeks. It was refreshing to see him in this role of weed-soaked, dim-witted, likable, grinning idiot-it was almost like getting to know Brad Pitt's character from True Romance. And Danny McBride (Fist Foot Way) as Red, the middle-man drug connection, steals the show playing part tough guy drug dealer part wimp-ass squealer.
Rogen, on the other hand, is becoming a parody of himself. He seems to be his own version of Woody Allen, muttering to himself things just for the audience to hear -some funny, some not so much, but all out of desperation and anxiety. Gary Cole is a good foil as the evil drug lord who's as equally stupid as the rest of the characters. Why Rosie Perez (simply as "female cop" in the credits) agreed to play such a small role is hard to fathom. Supporting actors Kevin Corrigan and The Office's Craig Robinson as hit men add some spunk. Corrigan is always good; he's becoming more like Walken in his delivery all the time, but Robinson's sexually confused tough guy is all over the map.

This was a surprising assignment for director David Gordon Green (Snow Angels/Undertow). His movies have been about painful relationships, resulting in major conflict and violence. Here he's put to the test helming an action-flick, breaking out the squibs which depict some rough scenes of bloody violence resulting in some real grizzly deaths. But where he shines is guiding the touching moments between Saul and Dale and their insipid relationship building/male bonding. These scenes come off like romance novel stereotypes; at times it's hilarious and sometimes it's just plain creepy. The characters all end up having feelings for each other, but this backfires making room for all kinds of innuendoes and then blatant gay references like "bromosexual." This movie moves into homo-jokes and ultra homo-eroticism for dopes. But played "straight" therein lies the "humor."

This movie has some absolutely funny one-liners, but by the time you get to the super stupid shoot-out finale and the ultra-drawn-out ending dialogue, you might have lost interest or the will to find it amusing anymore. The moral of the story may be that things aren't always better when high, but my bet is that the movie itself would be.

Pineapple Express★★
Because I laughed twice really hard.
Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Director: David Gordon Green.
Rated R.

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