Program Length: 112 minutes (theatrical version)
117 minutes (extended version)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 1080p
Languages: English, French Dolby TrueHD 5.1; Spanish, Portuguese, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Indonesian
Judd Apatow has produced a string of successful comedies in recent years. Among them are Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy; The 40 Year Old Virgin; Knocked Up; Superbad; and Step Brothers. His latest production to come to Blu-ray is Pineapple Express, which was a modest box office success followings its late-summer release. Apatow regular Seth Rogen stars as a stoner process server named Dale Denton. Dale enjoys his work because it allows him to be creative (he often slips into disguise so he can get near a subject in order to serve a subpoena), but mostly because he gets to drive around Clark County, Nevada and smoke pot all day. His dealer is Saul Silver (James Franco), a slacker who wants to be an engineer some day but at present feels obligated to help support his grandmother, who lives in a nursing home.
Dale visits Saul’s apartment to make a buy, and Saul introduces him to Pineapple Express, the most potent marijuana available. The two men appear to be close to becoming friends, but Dale clearly wants to keep some distance between himself and his dealer. That evening Dale goes out to serve a subpoena upon Ted Jones (Gary Cole), who as it turns out is Saul’s supplier. Dale is finishing off a joint while parked in front of Ted’s house, and he has to duck down when a police car driven by a female police officer (Rosie Perez) parks behind him and she rushes into the house. Dale then hears a shot ring out, and he looks up and sees Ted shooting an Asian man in the back of the head. Dale panics and tosses his joint into the street. He then rams his vehicle into the police car several times before fleeing the scene. When Ted realizes that someone has witnessed the shooting, he runs into the street and finds the half-smoked joint. He takes a puff and immediately recognizes it as Pineapple Express, the same marijuana which he recently sold to Saul.
It seems that a drug war is about to break out between Dale and his Asian competitors. Caught in the middle are Dale, Saul, and Red (Danny McBride, in a very droll and amusing performance), the middleman who actually provides the marijuana to Saul. Further complicating matters is the romance between Dale and his high school senior girlfriend, Angie (Amber Heard). Dale sends out two thugs, Budlofsky (Kevin Corrigan) and Matheson (Craig Robinson), to kill Dale and Saul, but by this time both of the targets are on the run. An encounter at Angie’s house provides an opportunity for a very funny scene involving her parents (featuring nice cameos by Ed Begley, Jr. and Nora Dunn).
Pineapple Express is a bit of a departure for Apatow. There is very little gross-out humor and relatively little in the way of raunchiness. In fact, one of the extras featuring Danny McBride is far raunchier than anything in the feature. In a sense Pineapple Express is really a buddy flick, as the developing relationship between Dale and Saul is in many ways the center of the film. While the movie is not a fall-down-funny film in the mold of Superbad, there are plenty of laughs along the way. There is also a fair amount of violence (some of it more cartoonish than realistic), and a first-rate chase scene which is both exciting and hilarious. I was not terribly anxious to see this film when I saw the theatrical trailers, but once it got started I found it to be quite enjoyable. My only real caveat is that it went on a bit too long. A few more judicious cuts would have kept it from sagging a bit in places.
The extended version differs little from the theatrical release. The longer version includes a couple of slightly lengthened scenes, as well as one unessential scene which does not appear in the theatrical version. The cuts clearly were made because of time, as they do not contain anything which is out of line with the rest of the film.
The performances are excellent across the board. Seth Rogen has made a career of playing slovenly slackers, and he does it well. James Franco is thoroughly believable as Saul. Gary Cole is suitably menacing as Ted, and Rosie Perez gives an energetic performance as a corrupt cop. Danny McBride is very amusing as Red, who is torn between his friendship with Saul and his desire to stay alive. Saturday Night Live fans will enjoy seeing Bill Hader in the film’s black & white prologue.
The 1080p Blu-ray 2.40:1 transfer is fine. The image is sharp and stable throughout, with minimal film grain. Colors are accurate and stable, as are the flesh tones. Several of the scenes occur at night, and black levels are solid and shadow detail is very good. Although the film’s locale is Nevada, the exteriors were actually shot in California and, to tell the truth, it looks a lot more like California. I did not see any obvious instances of DNR or edge enhancement, and overall the Blu-ray presentation has a pleasing film-like appearance. Overall it is an excellent transfer.
The Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 audio is very good. There is a lot of gunplay and a few explosions in this movie, so there is more in the way of audio punch than one would normally expect from a Judd Apatow film. The music on the soundtrack also is reproduced quite nicely, with excellent separation. Those of you who are old enough to remember the Sixties will want to keep an ear open for Claudine Longet singing “Love is Blue” during the scene where Ted has a telephone conversation with the Asian drug lord. The dialogue is always clear and intelligible.
Judd Apatow films on Blu-ray always contain an abundance of extras, and Pineapple Express is no exception.
Included is a digital copy of the film which can be uploaded to a PC, Playstation or to iTunes.
A rather crowded commentary track includes the producer, director David Gordon Green, and cast members Seth Rogen, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Ed Begley, Jr. and Rose Perez.
Also included are deleted, extended and alternate scenes, some of which produce additional laughs.
Among the featurettes is “The Making of Pineapple Express,” which is pretty much self-explanatory. “The Action of Pineapple Express” features the director, Rogen and Franco discussing the integration of intense action scenes into a comedy. “Phone Booth” shows how phone booth scenes were created with Judd Apatow playing the part of Angie off camera because Amber Heard had not yet been cast in the film.
“Line-o-Rama” is a regular feature of Apatow supplements. Basically these are shots of the actors using different deliveries of their lines of dialogue. A blooper reel is pretty much what you would expect. In “Saul’s Apartment” various characters from the film show up at the apartment to get stoned. “Injury Report” features Rogen and Franco “complaining” about the various bumps and bruises which they sustained during the shooting of the film (Franco actually took a couple of stitches in his forehead after running into a tree and Rogen sustained a minor finger fracture during a fight scene).
Ed Begley, Jr. gets a few minutes in a straight piece to talk about Begley’s Best, his line of environmentally-friendly home cleaning projects.
There is some rehearsal footage, as well as footage of the first table reading of the script. Stunt master Ken Jeong demonstrates how some of the film’s stunts were performed.
“Red and Jessica’s Guide to Marriage” is, as mentioned above, more raunchy than anything you will see if the film. It is also hilarious. You may want to make sure that the children are out of the room before you watch it.
The supplements also include a faux panel discussion in which the filmmakers and cast members take questions from supposedly random audience members. In fact, the questions are asked by professional comedians.
Finally, there is a theatrical trailer.
The two-discs come in a standard Blu-ray keepcase. Both versions of the feature and the extras are on one disc, and the digital copy of the film is on the other.
The Final Analysis
Recommending comedies is always a tricky proposition, because what one person finds hilarious can be another person’s yawner. However, Pineapple Express works on several levels, so I feel confident about recommending this film. In addition, the extras alone are likely to give you more laughs than you will find in many comedies these days.
Equipment used for this review:
Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray Player
Sharp LC-42D62U LCD display
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable
Release Date: January 6, 2008