Pineapple Express – The Surefire Formula


How easy it is to make this generation of moviegoers laugh. Judd Apatow and his crew of faux nerds figured it out and you can do it too! Remember Fruit Roll-ups? Not tired of unicorns yet? If you like old snack foods like Fruit Roll-ups and pot smoking and toilet jokes, and endless sarcastic dialogue about friendship, homoeroticism, useless mean-spirited cursing, copious bodily harm, nonsequitors up the ass, a pinch of racism and a lot of cock punching, then grab grandad’s typewriter and write the next Pineapple Express. You don’t need a coherent story or likable characters, you don’t even need funny actors or good jokes. Just get all your friends, preferably the guys you’ve been working with for a while so you get no dissenting opinions, go to the woods and let the camera roll. Ha, let the good times roll!

MORE LIKE Mediocre Express! lulz

How does it feel to be filming? It’s getting late and everyone’s tired, right? That’s okay, just start repeating your jokes! Point out the obvious! Yell random things, look around the area and spout out what you see: “Tree! Tree! Rock! Tree! Squirrel!” See? The jokes write themselves. If you need to build character and move the, ahem, “story” along throw your script away! It’s more of a guideline anyway. Improvise everything! Make shit up on the spot! Who’s going to know whether it was in the script or not? Isn’t the dialogue supposed to feel and sound real anyway? Then improvising, even if it’s transparent to everybody watching and ends up mildly annoying, is the way to go. If the improvising causes scenes to drag on with no sign of a punchline, that’s good. Don’t worry about cohesive editing or quick pacing, you can fix all that in post with choppy editing, and slow-motion montages, perhaps featuring people doing “the Robot” or simply walking around. Add in a lame soundtrack to help maintain the illusion of narrative progress. You want to pad your comedy film out with as much of this shit as possible so you can reach the hallowed feature length two hour mark. Why comedies would ever go beyond the 90 minute mark is a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a quick buck. Or rather, a slow buck! Who knows why? You’re not making Dr. Strangelove here. You’re making the next Pineapple Express!

Hey maaan there's a squirrrelll over theeere!

Now, here’s how you can improve on the Superbad/Knocked Up/Pineapple Express formula. Give James Franco better stuff to do! He is probably the only reason to make another one. His comic capabilities were discovered by those who gave up on Freaks & Geeks after three or four episodes in the marvel-ous (see what I did there? [see what I did there?] {I pointed out the joke!}) Spider-Man 3. Whenever he’s off-screen he is wanted back! Don’t put that buff bod to waste! Oh, do play up the homosexuality! I know this blog has been reading like A Film Fan’s Guide to Gay Movies lately but c’mon, at least this movie doesn’t try to hide its feelings under black masks and yellow capes. There are at least two times Seth Rogen and James Franco look like they’re going to full-on kiss, but guess what. SPOILER ALERT: They don’t. Hopefully, someday, the gay rom-com will come about that will revolutionize the industry by not inducing bile flow across the world and by not sniping at other underrepresented minorities to help make the gayness more palatable.

Pro-tip: Asian people are not jokes in themselves. I know. I know. “Look at A Christmas Story,” you say! “Look at Breakfast at Tiffany’s!” I say back: look again (Mickey Rooney isn’t even Asian!) Our friends from the far east have come a long, long way since then. Look at Harold and Kumar, I say! Harold’s a main fucking character and he’s Chinese for chrissake. How often do you see that? I mean, outside of kung fu movies? So to see them back as villains, getting their nails done, dressed as motherfucking ninjas for crying out loud, it’s kind of embarrassing. It wouldn’t be so bad if they were actually funny, and they’re the backbone of the murder plot apparently. Oh yeah, there’s a murder story somewhere. Not that it matters!


Hey, speaking of plots that are just excuses for random scenes to happen, Pineapple Express is very Harold and Kumar-esque. … Holy shit, who knew “Harold and Kumar-esque” would be something to say about something else? Well, there ya go, but it plays out almost the exact same way as the recent sequel, Escape From Guantanamo Bay. Murderous forces chase our two main characters, they get in wacky situations, the two guys fight and argue (much like the male and female leads do before the end of romantic flicks), then they get together at the end. I imagine both movies had the same pitch:

Judd Apatow: “Write a movie about what it’s like to be high.”

Seth Rogen: “Duuuuuude.”

Or maybe not. Judd probably wasn’t even there in person. Does anyone know what producers do these days? It feels like he e-mailed the approval.

Anyway. If one movie has the edge it’s Pineapple Express. H&K‘s racial progressiveness is keen and all, but Pineapple has the honorable distinction of no poop jokes (that I can remember, I was so baked man, ha ha!), less poking fun at the handicapped and minorities, and no half-baked attempts at political humor. Who even bothers putting that stuff into movies anymore anyway? I mean, besides hacks. Last I checked – which was last night – the fucking Daily Show is still on. Political humor writers of the world, take heed: your jobs are taken! Put on Comedy Central and see for yourself – twice – every goddamn night!

So when do we get to beat the shit out of this place?

Also, the character-who-is-funny-because-he-won’t-die has been done to death. Do I even need to point out examples? There’s a reason the third guy on Pineapple‘s poster doesn’t have his name next to Rogen’s and Franco’s – the guy sucks! The best scene in the movie is when our two heroes beat the fuck out of him in his own home, while destroying his own home. Not because it’s humorous, but for the sheer satisfaction of watching this guy guy and his home get obliterated for having to put up with his sleepy-eyed bullshit. But he keeps coming back. Why? Who let this guy in Apatow’s fun club? Why didn’t he die?!! For that matter, what the HELL is ROSIE PEREZ in this movie for?

Oh, whoa. Somewhere along the way I started reviewing. Ahem, back to business: improving the formula! Enhance the stupid girlfriend subplot. Trust me, even though it literally goes nowhere – indeed, you will forget it all together! – you need it to provide at least one female body in the movie and it will pad out your run time. It will bring your movie a screeching halt each time she opens her mouth but you could at least get some use out of a perfectly good Ed Begley, Jr. as her father. Don’t have him stick around for too long though, you want viewers aching for more Ed. Begley goodness! Even if his dialogue is just the word “fuck” over and over. You could amp the comedic possibilities to unforeseen heights by just tattooing the word “fuck” to his forehead. Then he need not speak at all!

Well, that’s it! You’re well on your way to penning the next mundane, surefire comedy hit. For further research I urge you to forgo paying for Pineapple Express. Steal it online, sneak in, whatever, just don’t pay your money for it. That could be weed money, brah!


Editor’s Note: Article doubles as A Guide to an Inferior Hot Fuzz


3 Responses to “Pineapple Express – The Surefire Formula”

  1. kevin Says:

    i probably will never see this because i’m not a big fan of hollywood’s comedy films, interestingly enough. they’re all pretty insipid.

    but take back what you said about rosie perez.


  2. Film Walrus Says:

    It’s probably fair for me to ask why you saw this movie at all, but I did like the guide-to-making-your-own-crap format. Also, hat’s off for reaching the curly brace; God I love triple-nesting comments.

  3. 2008 Round-Up Review - Kept You Waiting, Huh « Grump Factory Says:

    […] Pineapple Express – Hey, we got a weekend, some weed and woods in the backyard. Let’s make a movie! […]

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