Accidental Intimacies, Genuine Need: Pineapple Express, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco

By Daniel Garrett

Pineapple Express
Director: David Gordon Green
Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco 
Columbia Pictures, 2008

I enjoyed seeing the actors Seth Rogen and James Franco in David Gordon Green’s film of a story conceived by Judd Apatow with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (the screenplay is Rogen and Goldberg’s work): Pineapple Express. Their performances, as a weed-smoking process server, and a weed-selling layabout, were good: believable, with details true to the characters, who are, incidentally, Jewish (Rogen played the process server as smart, insecure, mercurial; and Franco played the salesman as casual, needy, funky). The story is driven by the process server’s witnessing of a murder, and the fact that he can be tracked by the cigarette he left near the scene, a unique blend of weed that he was sold.

It was interesting to see that what is made into satire now are things that used to be subtext but that we all know to look for—the no longer buried male need for other men (the homoemotional/homoerotic); and in the film, as some commentators have pointed out, that can occur in certain slippages of language, certain “accidental” incidents of physical closeness, etc. That the slippages and accidents are blatant and crude are a great part of the humor. It was funny to see some of the other characters in the film—would-be tough guys who “read” as unusually emotional, as possibly feminine, and as more likely “queer” than anything else, even as they mention their wives or girlfriends. (There is also the satire of the betraying friend, played by Danny McBride, who redeems himself—after being attacked multiple times.) Male friendship, and how masculinity threatens it and makes it possible, could be considered the theme of the movie. Ultimately, the men connect on a personal level that is very particular to who each is, something that might be beyond masculinity. Anyway, I laughed a lot, as did most of the people in the theater (a Manhattan theater on 34th Street, off 8th avenue, one I have rarely visited, unfortunately: it was big, attractive, and so hard to monitor by the small and young staff on duty on a very rainy night that I saw a couple of kids sneak into the film after coming from another)…

Daniel Garrett is a writer whose work has appeared in The African, AllAboutJazz.com, American Book Review, Art & Antiques, The Audubon Activist, Cinetext.Philo, Film International, Hyphen, IdentityTheory.com, Muse-Apprentice-Guild.com, Offscreen.com, Option, PopMatters.com, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, WaxPoetics.com, and World Literature Today. He has written fiction, poetry, drama, journalism, and criticism. Garrett’s commentary on Pineapple Express first appeared on his blog “City and Country, Boy and Man” (September 2008). Daniel Garrett’s web log at Blogger.com, focused on culture and society, is called “City and Country, Boy and Man.” His e-mail addresses are D.Garrett.Writer@gmail.com and dgarrett31@hotmail.com

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