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This stoner comedy/action genre bender follows a pair of druggie losers as they reach the top of the hit-list when one witnesses a mob murder and drags his buddy into a crazy flight from mobsters bent on silencing both of them permanently.
For more about Pineapple Express and the Pineapple Express Blu-ray release, see Pineapple Express Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 7, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Gary Cole, Rosie Pérez, Danny R. McBride, Bill Hader
Director: David Gordon Green
» See full cast & crew
Pineapple Express Blu-ray Review
One of the best comedies of 2008, mastered in 4K...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 7, 2013
There was a time, not so long ago, that stoner comedies left a bad taste in my mouth. Before Seth Rogen, James Franco and their fellow Freaks and Geeks opened up shop down the street, delivering one riotous pot-laced comedy after another, the stoner genre was little more than a pileup of mind-numbingly inane dialogue, dimwitted, go-nowhere losers, and a single joke hashed and rehashed a hundred times over. Perhaps if I'd ever partaken of the goods (so to speak), I might enjoy the cheaper product most pot comedies tend to peddle. Perhaps if I had more patience for one-toke humor, I wouldn't be so jaded. Or maybe, just maybe, stoner comedies have been missing the subtle intelligence, quick wit, and genre-skewing edge the wildly funny, undeniably clever Pineapple Express smuggles in by the truckload.
When 25-year old process server Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) witnesses a murder, he turns to good-natured pot dealer Saul (James Franco), who quickly... or not-so-quickly realizes the man responsible is criminal kingpin Ted Jones (Gary Cole), a dangerous gangster who develops and distributes exotic strains of marijuana. (Among them, the fabled Pineapple Express.) Soon after, the bumbling duo find themselves on the run from Jones, Saul's back-stabbing supplier, Red (scene-stealer Danny McBride), a corrupt cop in Jones' pocket, Carol Brazier (Rosie Perez), two bickering hitmen, Budlofsky and Matheson (Kevin Corrigan and Craig Robinson), and every other trigger-happy asset in the crime lord's employ. Racing to not only save their own skins but to protect Dale's teenage girlfriend (Amber Heard) and her parents (Ed Begley, Jr. and Nora Dunn), Dale and Saul decide to take the fight to Jones.
Producer Judd Apatow and director David Gordon Green (indie faves George Washington, All the Real Girls, and Undertow) deliver an initial jolt to the system that slowly, ingeniously evolves into an at-times screwy, always satirical genre revelation, bypassing predictability and repetition altogether. Like its namesake, Pineapple Express is something special, something easily distinguished from other varieties of stoner comedy. Green and screenwriting besties Rogen and Evan Goldberg treat Dale, Saul and Express's colorful cast of characters with a touch of humanity and a dose of class. Each high is a brief pit stop, not a destination; a prelude to a sharper, smarter scene, not the extent or culmination of the film.
It's in that balance that Green's experience cultivating dark, character-driven indie dramas shines through, and here that the likability of Rogen and Franco's would-be heroes takes root. Even when the plot barrels into the middle of a high-octane actioner, Green keeps his wits about him, tearing into each bloody shootout and grisly, over-the-top death (or near-death) with a deceptively unhinged command of the script and screen. Lulls in the action are just as exciting, with enough quotable insults, serrated pop culture references and barbed jabs between the cast members to keep the film clipping along. Moreover, what might be obnoxious in any other pot comedy is all at once weirdly endearing and terribly entertaining here, and the leftfield quirks central to each character won't soon be forgotten. Add to that Rogen, Franco and McBride's chemistry, the cast's mastery of improv, and Green's impeccable timing and you have a relentless, unremittingly hilarious (not to mention strangely heartwarming) stoner classic.
There's an argument to be made that the second act is a bit tedious and largely episodic (Rogen and Franco's paranoia shtick is fun but grows old after an hour) and the action-oriented, gore-infused climax is slightly forced in light of the film's breezy, economical setup. That said, Pineapple Express maintains its momentum and twists and turns in unexpected directions every time the current roadmap seems to be leading things down a set path. Even now, having revisited it more than a dozen times, I still crack up, laugh myself to tears and pray to the comedy gods for a sequel that sadly may never come. (Beyond This Is the End's PE2 sequel pitch.) With Pineapple Express and its ilk, the stoner comedy finally feels like a seasoned contender, one that's systematically abandoning old habits and setting its mind to bigger, grander things.
Pineapple Express Blu-ray, Video Quality
Sony's "Mastered in 4K" Blu-rays, like the Superbit DVDs of yesteryear, offer a premium experience on a familiar format, and do so to stunning, albeit marginally improved results. Though produced from newly minted 4K masters, the studio's premium presentations have been downscaled to standard 1080p resolution to make them compatible with current BD hardware. Even early adopters with 4K TVs will see the same upgrade as those with standard HD televisions, making the "Mastered in 4K" discs a novelty at best, a gimmick at worst. Obsessive videophiles with 1080p displays will happily savor the uptick in bitrate, no matter how limited the discernible video quality may be, while those who've spent a pretty penny on 4K tech will be left disappointed, wondering when oh when true 4K presentations will begin to surface.
The newly mastered version of Pineapple Express offers a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that's noticeably more refined than its 2009 counterpart, although, even at four years old, the original, highly scored 2009 Blu-ray release is certainly no slouch. Grain is a touch crisper and consistent, skintones are a bit more natural, delineation is more forgiving (with far less crush), and the image isn't susceptible to any artifacting, banding or compression anomalies whatsoever. Then again, the standard version remains quite striking, and only side-by-side comparisons, and more specifically screenshot-to-screenshot comparisons, demonstrate just how superior the newly mastered presentation is. There is the small matter of what can be perceived by the naked eye in motion, of course. If asked to distinguish one transfer from the other in a random sampling of scenes, most viewers wouldn't be able to identify the correct source 100% of the time. That said, if you know what you're looking for, the boost in detail, richness and clarity, while still rather minor, is apparent throughout.
That's not to suggest the newly mastered presentation is leaps and bounds beyond its predecessor, or that the film couldn't possibly look better than it does here. However, this is without a doubt Pineapple Express at its purest and most flawless, at least insofar as 1080p Blu-ray encoding can hope to deliver. Only a true 4K-ready disc could offer more. While patiently waiting for the future to arrive, though, there's no shame in enjoying an impeccable 1080p transfer, especially at a reasonably low pricepoint. The film's palette is warm and natural, with lovely color saturation and primaries. Black levels are rich and bottomless, without any crush as far as I could see. Contrast is dialed in beautifully from beginning to end, and never falters or fails. Detail is outstanding, with razor-wire definition, eye-popping textures and a perfectly filmic veneer of grain. Better still, the image is free of any issues and eyesores, minus a few instances of negligible ringing. What more could a Rogen-n-Franco fan ask for? Other than the real 4K deal, that is.
Pineapple Express Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Armed to the teeth with gunfire, explosions, car crashes and splatterific ultraviolence, Pineapple Express breaks through the genre's usual monotony with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track that makes itself known from start to finish. While the film's shoot-em-up sonics aren't quite as sophisticated or dynamic as those in more focused action spectacles, low-end support still adds plenty of punch, power and notable oomph to the on-screen chaos. Frantic sequences boast precision directionality, slick cross-channel pans, and an immersive soundfield brimming with activity, both in the front and rear. All the while, dialogue is crisp, clear and perfectly prioritized at all times, even in the midst of the madness that is the film's third act. Yes, Express's sound design is a tad uneven, hopping from conversational comedy to splashy action sequences without much grace, sometimes leading to front-heavy scenes that won't challenge anyone's surround system. And yet even scenes that exercise restraint feature enough assertive ambience and convincing acoustics to keep things interesting. All told, Pineapple Express sounds great, just as it did in 2009 when it first arrived on Blu-ray.
Pineapple Express Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
While the 2009 Blu-ray release of Pineapple Express features an audio commentary, deleted scenes and a near-endless assortment of extras, the "Mastered in 4K" edition doesn't include any supplemental content, nor does it include the film's 117-minute unrated extended cut.
Pineapple Express Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Sony's "Mastered in 4K" release of Pineapple Express delivers superior picture quality and... well, that's about it. Missing from the 2009 Blu-ray release is the film's unrated cut and a slew of special features. The otherwise terrific Dolby TrueHD audio tracks are the same, and even the video presentation is only mastered in 4K. In reality, the 4K source has been downscaled to standard 1080p, meaning even those viewing the transfer on an expensive new 4K television will yield the same quality as those viewing it on last year's HDTVs. Does that mean the new release of Pineapple Express isn't worth owning? Not at all; just that eagle-eyed videophiles will really be the only ones getting their money's worth. Me? I chose the best of both worlds, tossing my 2009 version into a multi-disc case alongside the 2013 "Mastered in 4K" edition. And the disc's relatively reasonable pricepoint helps in that regard. Sony may be offering a premium video experience, but to the studio's credit, that experience doesn't come at a hefty premium price. Of course, had Sony bundled the 2009 version with its 2013 counterpart, it would make for a much more tempting, value-packed 2-disc set...
Pineapple Express: Other Editions
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