A slacker redux day in the sun

Took the day off yesterday. Technically I was sick (cough, cough) but actually I needed to take care of things — errands and yard work.

It was a georgeous day — bright and sunny but not too hot — and though I ran to the bank and dropped of paperwork for my daughter at her school, and trimmed bushes, I was reminded of why I enjoyed my late teens and early twenties — my mid- and late-twenties as well for that matter — so much. There was this quality of slackerdom to my day that was very satifying. Sure, I had tasks to complete but I did them on my schedule without annyoing interuptions that serve other peoples’ agendas while making my workload heavier. It was a day sans bullshit.

Like those summers between college semesters when, after mowing my parents lawn or whatever, I’d head on over to my buddy Mick’s house to hang by the pool and listen to music, drink beer and smoke cigarettes. Ah, those were the days.

So of course it makes sense that I would go catch Pineapple Express on its opening day, a slacker, buddy, dope smoking movie if there ever was one.

Pineapple Express is the latest production to come out of the Apatow factory. And it is a very worthy one. It wasn’t as funny as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which for me is Apatow’s best. I know a lot of people liked Knocked up and Superbad, both of which are very good, but Virgin is the gold standard as far as I am concerned.

And, while similar to Superbad — both are young guy buddy movies — Pinepple Express doesn’t hold the same charm. Two sweet, if foul-mouthed, teen semi-losers can more easily find a place in an audience’s heart then a couple of twenty-something slacker stoners who, one would suspect, should know better.

But that is precisely what I liked about this movie. It doesn’t seem to give a shit if you approve of the characters or not. And what’s really amazing is you end up caring about these guys anyway. More than that, you like them, I mean really like them. They’re fucks up, sure, but they’re not assholes. And they’re not fucking criminals. Well, I mean, besides the dope dealing and smoking. And when they steal a cop car. And drive recklessly through town. And, oh yeah, sell weed to minors. Okay, so maybe they are criminals but they don’t really mean to be. They’re just trying to get by, you know.

Anyway. I thought it was pretty remarkable that two such characters could be so likable and redeemable as far as I am concerned. There’s a chance that this movie, more than Knocked Up and even Superbad, could be the Apatow factory’s real cult classic, the one people will watch again and again for years to come.

Dana Stevens writing for slate.com seems to agree.

Laugh for laugh, Pineapple Express is way funnier than Superbad. It may be the funniest mainstream comedy released so far this year (not that that means much when you’ve got The Love Guru pulling down your average).

Hmm. I can’t help but suspect that Ms. Stevens didn’t really appreciate all the vulgar sex humor in Superbad, which is why she finds Pineapple funnier. In any case, she has a “moral” gripe with both the movies.

But my problem with the movie is the same that I had with its 2007 twin: It’s a moral thing. The swath of destruction these boys leave in their wake—and Pineapple Express, unlike its predecessor, boasts a significant body count—seems disproportionate to the prevailing mood of dopey fun. Must every boys’ night out culminate in exploding vehicles, multiple gunshot wounds, and piles of sadistically dispatched villains? Whatever happened to heading out to White Castle for sliders?

Um, maybe because the run to White Castle things has already been done.

I think that this is just a chick thing. Guys like action and violence, they find humor in it. And I don’t think gals really get that. Maybe it immoral, maybe not. But there it is.

Of course, to be fair, Stevens is arguing not that violence has no place only that it is seemingly disproportionate in this case. To which I would say, yeah, but this is an Apatow comedy, in which case proper proportions don’t really have anything to do with it. Disproportion is part of his signature. But what do I know?

Stevens is all kind of down on Seth Rogen as well:

Rogen’s acerbic and bumbling but ultimately warmhearted Dale isn’t exactly a stretch from the character he’s been playing ever since Freaks and Geeks—himself, I guess—but he reliably delivers the Rogen goods.

And here I think she may have a point. I really dig Rogen. But you got to wonder if he’ll ever be able to evolve as an actor? Or will he just keep playing the same guy, just a little bit older with each movie. Of course, he can continue to write, but he’ll need to evolve there too. I suppose he can eventually produce. It will be interesting to watch his progress, in any case.

Anyway. How lame is it to moralize about a knucklehead stoner move? I mean, talk about harshing a buzz.


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