Pineapple Express (2008)

Pineapple Express (2008)

Original Theatrical Release: August 6, 2008
Director: David Gordon Green

When a lazy, stoner process server named Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) witnesses the murder of a Chinese drug dealer at the hands of Ted Jones (Gary Cole), the guy he was supposed to serve, he flees the scene of the crime and heads back to the guy who sells him pot (and his only friend) Saul Silver (James Franco). When it comes to light that Ted Jones is a major drug dealer, and the same guy who gave Saul a highly-rare strain of pot called Pineapple Express, the hapless duo realize that a couple of roaches left at the scene of the crime can be traced back to them. The two set out on the run from crooked cops and hired thugs, and all of them want the stoners dead.

I recently rewatched this, wondering if my original opinion had changed, and it did not. If anything, I think I like it more now than I did a couple years ago when I first saw it.

This is a stoner comedy done right. It has the appropriate amount of “touching” moments, without being sappy (like many of Adam Sandler’s comedies), has a lot of hilarious dialogue and stoner situations and, of course, has a lot of comedic talent.

Seth Rogen’s witty, sarcastic Dale Denton is a great character and we also see James Franco really dig in with his vapid, carefree portrayal of Saul Silver. Then, we have Danny McBride, who is hilarious as usual. There are lots of other cameos by other really funny people, too, like Bill Hader and Craig Robinson. It’s just a great ensemble cast.

The movie clipped along at a nice pace. Nothing really got too bogged down. There were plenty of chase scenes and awkward situational humor. I knew the inevitable rift between the main characters would come, and I disliked the way it was done in this film only because it was phoned ahead and it was hard not to see it coming when it did.

Many folks will prefer other movies by Team Apatow, like Knocked Up or Superbad. Those are great movies, too, but I think this one should be compared more to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back or Dude, Where’s My Car?. Next to those last two stoner flicks, I really think Pineapple Express can hold its own. If you don’t enjoy this movie, chances are, you don’t really like stoner flicks in general.

For a “stupid-humor” film, though, this has a pretty smart screenplay and some really great direction by David Gordon Green.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Movie Trailer For Pineapple Express

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Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man (2002)

Original Theatrical Release: May 3, 2002
Director: Sam Raimi

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is your average high school student from New York who has a lot of troubles in his young life. Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) is the girl of his dreams but doesn’t really give him the time of day. He gets bullied, and doesn’t even live with his real parents – instead living with his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) and Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson). Next to his rich best friend, Harry Osborn (James Franco), Peter’s life looks pretty lame. Well, until he is bitten by a radioactive spider and is granted great powers. As young Peter finds out in a very hard and tragic way with the murder of his Uncle Ben, with great power must also come great responsibility. Peter dons the identity of Spider-Man and fights crime, and the menace of the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), in New York City.

When this movie first came out, I was ecstatic. I never thought I would see a Spider-Man movie on the big screen. Not only that, but it was being directed by Sam Raimi, the same guy who made those Evil Dead movies that I loved so much.

The film mostly lived up to my expectations. Tobey Maguire has always been questionable to me as a good Peter/Spider-Man, but I think he pulled it off (quite a bit better than James Garfield, I’m sorry to say….but I’ll tell you why in my review of the newer Spider-Man movie when I finally do it) for the most part. I always thought of Peter as really dorky and Maguire can certainly pull off dorky.

I know a lot of folks had a problem with Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, but I enjoyed her in that role. It’s probably the only role of hers I actually like. (Not sure on that, yet)

James Franco was okay as Harry Osborn, but he wasn’t amazing. In fact, I like him in almost any other movie. I felt like he was hamming it up too much in this film. I dunno why. Maybe just because it was a comic book movie and he felt he had to be Shakespearian?

Willem Dafoe was AMAZING as Norman Osborn, but the choice to put him behind a metal mask as the Green Goblin was atrocious. We could have had some really demented scenes with Dafoe, especially if he wore prosthetics or a different mask, but instead we got fights that were reminiscent of Power Rangers….where you hear the voice of the villain but if the sound were off you would just see him shaking his head around a lot when he’s “talking”. I know it’s possible to do this with some range, just like in V For Vendetta, (the link to my review for that film) but whatever their technique…it didn’t work.

Almost everything else was great, though. I didn’t like the organic webshooters, though it DOES make sense…that’s not who Spider-Man is. I wanted to see him create the web shooter devices as he does in the newer movie (and they do it quite well) because that was integral to his character in the comics. I feel like he was dumbed down a lot in the film.

So, overall, it was a decent movie (the second one was much better) but due to a lot of weird problems, I didn’t think it was as amazing as it should have been.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Movie Trailer For Spider-Man

Oz The Great And Powerful (2013)

Oz The Great And Powerful (2013)

Original Theatrical Release: March 8, 2013
Director: Sam Raimi

Oz (James Franco), a small-time traveling circus magician, finds himself on the run due to his philandering. He escapes the clutches of a slighted circus strongman with the aid of a hot air balloon and is hit by a tornado which transports him to the land of Oz. With his newfound companions, he must defeat the Wicked Witch and restore Oz to its former glory and also redeem himself.

Before seeing this film, I’d had lots of trepidation about it. We have all (hopefully) seen the original Wizard of Oz and it’s one of those untouchable films that has withstood the test of time, and will seemingly always be a classic in our hearts. So, when I heard that Sam Raimi was doing an Oz prequel with James Franco and Mila Kunis…yikes. I was pretty scared.

However, my fears turned out to be unfounded.

The film starts out true to 1930’s/40’s film fashion and Raimi does a great job with the transition from black and white to full color. You can definitely see his influence in the film with the way some of the scenes are shot and especially with how one of the witches looks. (She looks like a Deadite from his Evil Dead series) This may or may not be a good thing, given the nature of the flavor Oz movies have.

The best part of the film, to me, was Mila Kunis as Theodora. We finally see how she became the evil witch we all love to hate, and despite the crazy makeup she still somehow exudes sexy. There were a couple of weird nods to her hotness, with a butt-shot and a bodice-ripping scene…but it didn’t jar me for too long. She looked amazing as The Wicked Witch.

All of the companions are creepy but somehow entertaining. (Doll with a knife?! Helloooooo?!) There were nods to other characters like the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow that we know we’ll eventually see. The visuals were great and the music was nice by Danny Elfman (despite the random pop song during the credits…WTF?)

All in all, I think it was a fun movie. It had some plot holes and dull moments, so it’s not perfect, but it’s nice to revisit Frank L. Baum’s universe again and see how Oz, The Great and Powerful got his start.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Movie Trailer For Oz The Great And Powerful