A stoner comedy that recalls gonzo, go-for-broke ’70s filmmaking, “Pineapple Express” is the sort of instant-classic crowd-pleaser that will always find a new audience for generations to come. As usual, Seth Rogen is perfectly cast as the hyper-verbose, pot-smoking lead here, and while Rogen has limited range, what he’s capable of doing within those parameters is truly cinematic gold. He’s well-paired with James Franco, who delivers his best-ever performance as a lovably dim drug dealer, and the two share such strong chemistry that it’s impossible not to get swept up along with them. A diversion involving Rogen’s high school girlfriend (played by Amber Heard) doesn’t add much to the finished product and could have been excised to trim the overstuffed running time, but other than that, everything else works so well. The oversized climax is deliberately over-the-top and works specifically for that reason, and the movie earns its R rating not simply through language and drug use, but also excessive violence and gore, which makes the experience all the more unexpectedly hard-edged. It’s a delight from beginning to end, and also has plum supporting roles for dependable character actors like Gary Cole and Rosie Perez, and the movie not only survives repeat viewings but gets even better with each new one.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)