The high-concept hiring of indie darling David Gordon Green to direct the latest Judd Apatow–produced flick was a stroke of genius in theory. What better way to enliven the output of an already tired one-man cinematic brand and his merry band of acolytes than to bring in an outside agitator to shake things up? And what genre could use a makeover more than the stoner comedy, the demographic of which would certainly appreciate the possibly inspired visuals an art-house stylist might bring to the experience? Although I’d sworn off Apatow after Knocked Up—a movie so gleefully misogynistic I wanted to clock America on its collective head for falling for it—Green’s inclusion in the gang made me reconsider. At the very least, I’d hoped the talent mash-up would produce interesting frissons. Disappointingly, nothing doing: this long-gestating result of pop-art intercourse is stillborn.
Maybe Green smoked too much weed doing research for Pineapple Express; how else to account for the lazy disinterest in the cinematic conception of this strangely galumphing affair from a filmmaker usually attentive—in concert with his regular cinematographer Tim Orr—to such concerns as composition and lighting? Staid pacing and standard shots held a few beats too long to hit the comedic sweet spot show up Green’s inexperience in mainstream generic moviemaking. His direction here exhibits nothing so much as that least attractive of stoner attributes: a sluggish inertia. Otherwise his influence on Pineapple Express remains unfelt as Apatow’s concerns dictate the course of action. Based on a story written by the prolific producer, along with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (the pair developed it into a screenplay), the movie circles around rituals of heterosexual male bonding, as usual. But this time, as if in response to all the critical chatter surrounding such exclusionary attention to XY-only camaraderie, Team Apatow amps up the homosocial love-in even further to become a spoof of its former self.
Click here to read the rest of Kristi Mitsuda's review of Pineapple Express.