The High Countries

because it’s all paperweight…

Pineapple Express (2008)

(Left to Right) Seth Rogan, James Franco and Danny McBride walk back from a long, crazy night.

(Left to Right) Seth Rogan, James Franco and Danny McBride walk back from a long, crazy night.

One Crazy Night

High as a kite — eh, a great summer escape.

by Bryce VanKooten

There I was, back in high school, watching two grown men wander the streets of their hometown in search of friends and foe, drugs and dreams. I didn’t have to try very hard to see them walk through their front door to standing parents, awaiting their arrival; their disapproving looks saying it all. Before speaking they pause, minds spinning from the night’s many adventures, they rewind, trying to start from the beginning.  Then, very slowly and seriously, they begin, “You guys…I can explain. This could have happened to anyone.”

Armed with a throwaway job as a Process Server and a mediocre high school girlfriend (the very cute, Amber Heard), Dale Denton (Seth Rogan) has his daily sites set on two things: getting high today and preparation for his high tomorrow. Generally, the only thing deterring him from these goals are the minor obstacles in his path – new costume ideas for the next ‘serve’, scraping together enough cash for tonight’s purchase, calling his girlfriend – and even they rarely seem to keep him from his hazy utopia. In Denton’s eyes, he lives in the pinnacle of life’s glorious drag, sucking down joints like yesterday’s leftovers. Its comic genius, I must admit and no joke is lost among the laborious scenes of everyday puffing.The mellow attitude with which the film opens is only enhanced after we meet Saul Silver (James Franco), Dale’s just-as-lazy drug dealer. If Dale’s a pothead, I’m not sure where that puts Saul — maybe, Dale in a decade?

**Spoiler(s) ahead**

The movie stays in its smoky saga only long enough to paint the scene. After Dale witnesses a cop’s murder by the hands of a crocked dealer (Gary Cole) and leaves a joint of the infamously rare Pineapple Express at the scene of the crime the movie switches gears after he finally begins fearing for his life after realizing the rare weed’s traceability and just like that, we’ve got a full blown mouse hunt on our hands. Between Silver’s lackluster zeal for much of anything and Dale’s predisposition to practicality, the jokes are brilliantly normal and the comedy perfectly understandable. What did we expect, really? Every Apatow movie to date has been about the average man; each time finding himself in an increasingly more improbable, but never impossible, situation. Pride yourself on cleanliness and 1980’s comic books and you could be a 40 Year-Old Virgin. Hook up with a girl out of your league and both of you could very well be unhappy and Knocked Up. Follow around high school boys trying desperately to swipe the V-card and successfully purchase alcohol with a fake ID and I guarantee you the footage will be Superbad. Pineapple Express is no different. Smoke enough weed in a short period of time and this could actually happen to you, there’s not a doubt in my mind.

Don’t read me wrong here, this movie becomes more and more outlandish with each passing turn, but the jokes are never too far – save the fighting ninja warriors, those were a bit much, I suppose. After these modern-day Cheech and Chongs realize their notorious stash of PE can be traced back to them, they decide to sprint for the middle man — tweener-dealer Red (Danny McBride) and easily the funniest character of this film (and maybe the entire last year).

Each twist of fortunes finds Red fighting against someone else and by the end of the film the now-famous clip of the neck brace-wearing Red chirping, “thug life…” has never rang truer. With the dealer’s goons (The Office’s Craig Robinson and Superbad’s Kevin Corrigan) hot on their tracks, the three underdogs embark on the save-all-except-themselves mission using the PE to finance the necessities: Slurpees and snacks. After Dale gets arrested for blatantly selling to minors, their plan seems thwarted — all hope lost. Arms behind his back, trying to explain to the driving police officer, Dale glances up to see his counterpart – a Slurpee-holding Saul – standing directly in front of the speeding vehicle, willing to take a hit for his friend. The slushy drinks erupt, mostly on the windshield, make the Police cruiser now both their getaway and a seemingly obvious hit-and-run homicide. Misconception…all one big misconception, but hilarious nonetheless. I wouldn’t want to spoil the rest of the film for you, but bottom line: it’s worth a watch if you feel like a night off from responsibility.

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August 6, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Film Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jesse Jackson: “I wanna cut his (Obama’s) nuts off…”

Jesse Jackson Obama's Nuts...

As time unfolds, the Reverend's words may prove more telling than his legacy.

Distinguished quests,

I realize that understanding, mercy and tolerance are flourishing ideals of this postmodern world. I am keen to the fact that most ill-spoken quip can be extinguished with a simple apology, half-witted explanation or conniving, cover-up lie.  By now, I am sure you have all heard that Jesse Jackson did some quipping of his own this week. In our by-the-second news world, this email is legions of seconds too late and reads like yesterday’s classic novel, I’m sure. All tardiness aside, hear me out.

After reading Bill O’Reilly’s book, The O’Reilly Factor, I can say that its main point was the emphasis of dialogue. By whatever means necessary, Bill always tried to have dialogue with most guests. And even in some of his most heated moments — like with Heraldo Rivera — cooler heads usually prevailed. When guest would choose not to come on the show, nearly each time, with enough persistence, they’d make ammends. Hillary and Bill Clinton, Eminem, Reverend Al Sharpton – all finally succumbed, whether to pressure or realization and appeared on the show in one way or another, save one: Reverend Jesse Jackson.

At the time of print, the Reverend had yet to appear on the show. He had not given rhyme or reason for his impartiality towards Mr. Reilly and never once returned a call personally. He didn’t want to talk. He didn’t want to be anywhere near him, maybe for good reason. Each time the Reverend came up in news, Bill was there – ready to give objective view — sometimes on polarizing and seemingly fallacious topics (such as the death of Stanley “Tookie” Williams). With each new news day came more criticizing, grandstanding and stake-driving from the Reverend in response to any and all of The Factor’s coverage. “There’s always a place at the table for dialogue”, Bill would say, adding, “…but it seems the Reverend can’t find the time.  Maybe next week.”

Years have come and gone and although the Reverend has appeared on The Factor (with topical guidelines overflowing from his team’s notepads), never once has the Reverend been the poster child of what he preaches. If there’s people around, tolerance will be preached, but when the mics go off – the dialogue apparently changes.

The courtesies that Mr. Reilly patriotically offered to Mr. Jackson – listening ears, and open mind and a patient tongue – were once again offered publicly to a man that, by his own teaching, would not deserve such a service. Reverend Jackson’s (and it kills me to say that) words echoed through the halls of the causes he so fervently claims to champion against: hate, anger and envy. Could anger ever be more inopportune?

Outside of the sound bites uncaught by hot mics, the point is this: The Reverend Jackson — a man who so adamantly strives for the public stage by which to boast his own tyrannical and illogical fight against racism — has just become the apple of his own eye. Its the modern-day allusion to David’s conversation with the prophet Nathan.  Jesse Jackson’s entire life has been his crusade to place damnation on the masses and wash his hands of any guilt.  After his comments on Monday, and by his own actions, his legacy takes true form.

July 10, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, News, Television | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment