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

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Matthew (Jonah Hill) looks on with Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) in one of the film’s rare clothed moments.

I Can Forget Soon Enough

By Bryce VanKooten

The night was quiet. The bold spring sunset had faded from existence and most of us were freshly done with our final papers, save one man. Andy, one of my dorm-mates — brilliant, lazy, looks exactly like you think he would — had yet to start his paper. In that moment of steady disregard for anything related to planning, an infamous quote was born. “The key to writing a great paper is hiding poor ideas behind great structure.” It was not until now that I fully realized the truth of his words. Today, after a long viewing of a bellowing, sub par film, I’m amazed that others (even a team of professionals) have yet to figure it out.

Last night I lost just under two hours of my life. Not to sleep (which I would have traded ten times over), but to the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall. As I entered the theater, I was convinced that sitting in the front row would not ruin my experience. Despite my carnal intuition, this movie could not have more needless sex than Jud Apatow’s previous films (40 Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, etc). I had been invited for free, how super-bad could it get? Ah, who doesn’t love famous last words…

For my sanity (I couldn’t be more serious), I’m going to skip over the first half. I’ll summarize by saying I vaguely enjoyed it. There are not words to express the angst and pain I felt for the final 4,500 minutes of this nightmare, though ‘angst’ and ‘pain’ seem to work nicely, for now. If the first half were an intriguing magazine cover, the second half would be the naked guy on page one, and page two, and three and so on, and so on, and so on, etc.

For pity’s sake, I’ll give you the high points … okay, that’s about it. Let’s recap.

Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) is busted up pretty bad after his girlfriend and budding TV star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) breaks up with him (he’s naked and I can’t emphasize enough how not funny this is… every time). To reboot, he takes a trip to Hawaii where he meets a fresh-and-fun-brunette-hotel-clerk Rachael (Mila Kunis aka; Family Guy’s Meg Griffith), but finds out that his newly departed girlfriend has arrived with her new 60’s-inspired, rock star boyfriend, Aldous Snow (Russel Brand). Got it? Shenanigans ensue and much ‘awkwerdity’ is had, mostly thanks to the seemingly fail-safe-for-a-laugh waiter/hotel helper/Aldous stalker, Jonah Hill.

After Peter becomes jealous of Sarah and Sarah turns out to be jealous of Peter (what a twist!), the movie ventures onto a path the most clearly resembles an un-funny porno. Coincidentally, Aldous (who doubles as the funniest onscreen and the most crazed) got less time on screen than the blankets they all retreat to. The movie continues with a terrible script, an even worse storyline and one of the most distasteful and incredibly unfunny movies I’ve seen in the past decade.

I’m guessing, by the end of the film, we’re supposed to like Peter Bretter (or at least feel sorry for him––which I didn’t). But in a comedic sense, how can you like, or give any emotion to someone that doesn’t entertain you? I suppose he entertained me when he took the lengthy banana out of his Margarita Smoothie and muttered, “Whoa, look at this guy.” But outside of the few moments when he was perfectly drunk, he was plain torturous. This movie hinged on blatant, insanely awkward (re: not awkward-funny, just really dumb) male nudity. I lost track the 4th or 5th time, but there had to be a good half dozen shots of the same guy on the big screen. And what’s the most ironic part of all of this? Jason Segel, the man’s who wore his birthday suit once already in Knocked Up, decided to write his own story this time. I’ll lay it out for you simply: It’s his script. He was likely naked when he wrote it.

All horribly raunchy, 40 Year-Old Virgin had a story, Anchorman remains a recent classic and Superbad was, well … funny. My apologies for not being able to grab Andy three years ago, given him a Flux Capacitor and a megaphone and told him to scream his line at the top of his lungs all the way to 2008. I hope Forgetting Sarah Marshall will be soon forgotten (oh, that was too easy). And judging by the way The Forbidden Kingdom preformed this weekend, Forgetting Sarah Marshall may not be all it was knocked up to be.

April 21, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Film Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments