Dir David Gordon Green US (PG15)
Hollywood’s relationship with herbal cigarettes has undergone a number of switchbacks over the past century, from the demonic giggling maniacs of Reefer Madness to the heroic giggling maniacs of Up In Smoke. But it’s largely been depicted as a fringe activity for peacenik hippy throwbacks, not average working Joes.
Pineapple Express has its fair share of burn-outs, not least James Franco’s dealer Saul. But our hero is legal process server Dale (Seth Rogen), whose daily grind is sweetened by judicious application of the kind leaf. This routine is cruelly shattered when Dale witnesses a murder and is forced to go on the run with only the babbling, perma-spaced out Saul for company.
Written by the Superbad team of Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Judd Apatow, Pineapple Express is replete with dirty cops, gangsters and manic slapstick violence. But, as directed by indie guru David Gordon Green, the film also displays considerable sweetness, a lightness of touch and a depth of character that set it far above its forebears. At its heart the film stands as an impassioned love letter to the jazz baccy. A brief midway moment of hazy regret – ‘We’re useless when we’re high!’ – is quickly brushed aside, followed by an upbeat scene in which our heroes sell drugs to minors. It climaxes with a marathon shoot-out in a growing house. But there’s still time for a gloriously unexpected coda, a moment of quiet reflection and narrative ingenuity that confirms Pineapple Express as the finest comedy of the year.
Dhs85 from Virgin Megastore
Pride And Glory
Dir Gavin O’Connor US (PG18)
Charged with re-creating the special intimacy of an extended Irish-American cop family in this ambitious, visceral, verismo-oriented and lengthy NYPD drama are such diverse actors as Edward Norton, Jon Voight and Colin Farrell. Joe Carnahan’s screenplay and Gavin O’Connor’s direction give good set-up and lay obvious trails: the impressive opening – a smack-and-groan, heightened-realist inter-emergency services American football game – offers clues to the drama to come.
Farrell’s Jimmy Egan, playing a roaring, gurning, war-painted fullback, is obviously popular among New York’s finest, but possibly something of a loose cannon; Norton’s Ray Tierney, coming late to the game, looking occupied, is the thoughtful outsider. When a drug bust goes horribly wrong – four officers killed, including Jimmy’s partner – Ray’s dad (Jon Voight), local chief of police, convinces Ray to head the investigation, with potentially revelatory and divisive results.
Bloody, violent and increasingly derivative, Pride And Glory betrays its initial promise as a small-scale, Godfather-esque social tapestry with crude plotting, variable acting and an all-too-guessable storyline and conclusion.
Dhs85 from Virgin Megastore