Posted on Tuesday, August 12th, 2008 by David Chen
In this episode of the /Filmcast, Dave, Devindra, Adam, Peter, and Hunter Stephenson weigh in on the Tropic Thunder controversy, defend Shia Lebeouf, and re-enact a scene from one of Hollywood’s hottest scripts. Special guest Dan Trachtenberg joins us from the Totally Rad Show. Have any questions, comments, or suggestions? Want to sponsor or advertise with the /Filmcast? Feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach our voicemail number at 781-583-1993. Join us next week as we broadcast the /Filmcast live on TUESDAY night (NOT Monday) at 10 PM EST / 7 PM PST and review Tropic Thunder.
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Many people predicted that it wouldn’t happen, but The Dark Knight won its fourth straight weekend, taking in $26 million, compared to Pineapple Express‘ estimated $22.5 million. The last film to accomplish this feat was 2003′s Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. In less than a month, the Batman Begins sequel has grossed $441.5 million domestically, making it the third highest grossing film of all time (before inflation of course), knowing Shrek 2 from the throne. The only two films which have made more money domestically (before inflation) are Star Wars and Titanic.
The Dark Knight will likely top Star Wars’ $460.9 million in the coming weeks. And while unlikely, box office analysts aren’t counting the film out of the all-time race tp $600 million. The film has also grossed $263 million overseas, for a worldwide total of $704.6 million. To give you some perspective, The Dark Knight just surpassed Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Forrest Gump and The Sixth Sense on the worldwide chart.
Pineapple Express premiered nationwide on Wednesday with $12.1 million, but dropped 50% on Thursday for an estimated $6.35 million. The Dark Knight has beaten Mamma Mia, Space Chimps, Step Brothers, X-Files 2, The Mummy 3, Swing Vote… but will the cape crusader be able to take down the Judd Apatow stoner comedy? Steve Mason is predicting that Pineapple Express will make $28.7 million over the weekend ($47 million for it’s five day opening), while The Dark Knight is eyeing a number somewhere in the $27 million range. The bottom line is that for right now, it is too close to call.
Seth Rogen just got a free pass. I mean, a 9.5, CHUD? Really? FirstShowing declares Pineapple Express “breaks new ground” and implies it’s the “best stoner comedy ever made.” I’m not really sure what movies one must zoom past to make the best stoner comedy of all time. Is The Big Lebowski king? Garnering this superlative is sort of like being the world champion at MAPPY in The King of Kong. More accurately, Rogen’s film might be the best stoner comedy by default, because it will make you wish you stayed home, packed a huge bowl and watched Caddyshack, or Fletch, one of the hazy ’80s 10.0 action-comedies this aspires to be. The first scenes with Rogen in PE are a pale, if loving, homage to that Chevy Chase classic’s aliases like Dr. Rosenpenis, likewise with the adrenalized, instrumental theme music.
Pineapple Express stumbles as an original comedy, a stoner movie and a buddy action film. It lacks the liquid-bowel laughs of last summer’s Superbad, which was also written by Rogen and Evan Goldberg. And remember the awesome fan-made Superbad: The Action Movie trailer we posted? That two-minute clip exuded the superior goofball tension and ratatat gunfire I expected when Seth Rogen expressed surprise at getting the greenlight for this “risky” blend of inhales and mayhem.
So, where the hell is this film’s totes awesome “exploding toilet”-like action sequence set to MIA’s “Paper Planes”? Where is “Paper Planes”? That song’s inclusion in the trailers undoubtedly netted this movie an extra $5-10 million, but it’s MIA. It would have loaned the by-numbers fisticuffs and explosion at the climax a passable sense of peril. Never before has a chubby guy doing generic action moves been this overblown. An argument against this review and in defense of the movie will be: “Well, it’s not supposed to be as funny as Superbad” and “it’s not supposed to be as action-y as Lethal Weapon.” And therefore the movie is not supposed to be really funny or really thrilling, correct? And the justification is, “it’s a stoner movie, OMG, it’s not supposed to be that good in general”? Okay.
Pineapple Express is essentially a party sub in which all of the dead and bloody stuff is unevenly packed into the last third; followed by endless amounts of lazy meta-improv between James Franco, Rogen and Danny McBride (who almost saves the movie) sitting on their self-gratified asses telling us how amazing the movie we just watched was. In the Judd Apatow-produced and much funnier, Step Brothers, Will Ferrell & Co. go out with a bang with a rock opera, some unclassic Billy Joel, and the affable phrase “Fucking Catalina Wine-Mixer!” If PE is the new gold standard for American comedy as proclaimed by every glossy magazine this month, I’m going to go take a shit and read my collection of National Lampoon magazines for the next year like the black dude in Summer School.
CHUD says that James Franco deserves an Oscar nomination for his “breakout role” Saul Silver. Why? For stealing Brad Pitt’s resin-torched laugh in True Romance and pronouncing the word “man” like it’s made out of taffy (or “God’s Vagina,” one of the only good lines here)? The chemistry and the bromance Franco and Rogen shared 10 years ago on Freaks and Geeks felt genuine and was far more impressive. Their aimless stoners were similarly brought together by the randomness of life i.e. high school. And Franco gives great performances in that series—he’s consistently hilarious and inventive throughout. When his Freak apologized to Rogen’s Freak after making a joke at the expense of the latter’s tuba-playing girlfriend having a baby cock, viewers cried (many were high)! It was brilliant. When Rogen and Franco have their falling out in Pineapple Express, followed by a stilted apology, it doesn’t mean anything, even for a “lowbrow action comedy” in the spirit of Lethal Weapon or 48 Hours. Clearly, the filmmakers want and need us to be invested, but it plays like two kids with lobotomies walking in opposite directions after an argument. You could debate that these characters are supposed to be exactly that (and you’d feel tainted), and you could debate that this describes many American moviegoers when they exit the theater (and you’d be right, or Hollywood Elsewhere).
In contrast, we believe that Harold and Kumar depend on each other because they’re both insecure about their futures, girls, unpredictable off-road trips, white people and NPH’s ecstasy habit. And they both really enjoy good weed. Cheech and Chong are bonded by alliteration, road trips, stupidity, poverty, broads, and the carefree fuck-the-man fumes (nice dreams?) of the ’60s and ’70s. And they both really enjoy good weed and blow. In Smiley Face, Anna Faris is the modern, funny but troubled girl (and all guys have dated one) who goes it solo, smokes herself out and simultaneously symbolizes the answer and problem to everything today (which is why “that girl” tends to ultimately disappear or become a doctor or lawyer). Stoner comedies tend to reflect and subvert the day’s culture. Rather than subverting our culture, Pineapple Express blows it back at us, to the point where a promising indie director named David Gordon Green is being cheerleaded by critics for making a just-average crowdpleaser and “adequately handling action.”
In place of the timeless comedic duo we expected from the “New Kings of Funny,” we’re offered a wannabe M. Fletch Fletcher and a talented actor who’s impersonating an actor playing a stoner and seems secretly bored. And why Rogen and Franco’s characters aren’t shot in the head by the film’s goons, nicely played by Kevin Corrigan (a great stoner in Freaks and Geeks) and Craig Robinson (The Office), before this overhyped comedy goes soggy Black Rain is a valid question not worth wasting good weed on.
6/10 (Adam Sandler’s Bulletproof x High Times porn = Overhyped, Subpar Apatow Flick)
P.S. Nikki Finke just referred to Slashfilm as “pothead fanboys.”
At Comic Con, Judd Apatow joked about a possible Pineapple Express / Superbad crossover movie, where the paths of all the characters would cross. Everyone thought it was just a joke. Besides, Seth Rogen has expressed his disinterest in doing another Superbad, even though the movie studio has been clamoring for a college tale.
This week our friends at MTV talked with Pineapple Express star James Franco, who told them it’s a real idea. But it gets even weirder. According to Franco, part of the idea for the “unprecedented crossover” is that it could be filmed by two directors, Greg Motolla and David Gordon Green, each directing half of the movie. Even Franco admits that it “doesn’t make sense at all, but could work.” I’m not sure the Directors Guild of America would allow it.
The idea of the crossover became hot in Hollywood when Nick Fury showed up in Iron Man and Tony Stark made an appearance in The Incredible Hulk. But truth is, Kevin Smith created the ultimate crossover movie years ago with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, which included the characters from every Kevin Smith film at that time. And since Smith, like Apatow, uses the same crew on many films, some of the actors appeared as a couple different characters. For instance, Jason Lee appeared as both Brodie Bruce from Mallrats and Banky Edwards from Chasing Amy.
And with a Pineapple Express / Superbad crossover, thee would be a huge conflict as Seth Rogen appears in both films in major roles. Franco’s idea is to kill one of the characters off, soyou don’t have to deal with it. I think the funnier thing would to be having Seth Rogen, as the cop from Superbad, chasing Seth Rogen as the stoner from Pineapple, down the street. LOL. Yeah, I doubt this will ever happen. I think I’d actually rather see Seth, Evan and Fogell go to college.
Discuss: Would you rather see a Crossover movie or a Superbad sequel?
PineappleGate 2008 Update: The NY Daily News confronted James Franco about the growing t-shirt controversy and he continues to deny it, reiterating that David Gordon Green “came up with his own design” and calling PineappleGate “ridiculous.” At this time, no one involved with the film has contacted WOWCH for free popcorn.
For the sake of trivia amongst future generations of stoned college students, here we go. A brutal controversy is flaring up over the origins of the “Shark-kitten” t-shirt worn by actor James Franco for the entire duration of the hit pot comedy Pineapple Express, and in the posters and trailers et al. The popular and extremely DIY Brooklyn t-shirt partymeisters, WOWCH, claim that the movie ripped off their design from 2005. Their design, which is done in the signature WTF style of the company, is seen below. (And yes, I own a couple of their t-shirts, and believe the filmmakers committed this naughty sin).
In a recent interview, Franco attributed the design to the brain of director David Gordon Green. WOWCH claims the design was just flipped, darkened and the color of the cat changed from white to yellow. Somebody call Judge Judy. Now, this matter might seem silly, but if you recall the Richard Pryor t-shirt worn by Jonah Hill in Superbad, and that t-shirt’s ensuing popularity—undoubtedly a hipster/geek staple for years to come—WOWCH should have gotten a hat tip in the shape of a Jacuzzi limo. Instead of asking for a bazillion dollars, the classy dudes will forever refer to the film as Plagarist Express [sic] and demand: “GIVE US FREE PASSES AND POPCORN. AND MAYBE A LARGE SODA THAT WE WILL PUT 2 STRAWS IN.” They also want to remind viewers that the cute kitten is, in fact, dead, and not being carried marsupial-like by the Great White.
Update: In the name of capitalism, Cool Stuff, and Pet Semetary, WOWCH’s uber-famous kitten has now returned from the dead. Now available in “trendy American Apparel gym class heather gray for all the haters.”
Discuss: Whose side are you on? Pick a side! Don’t say the cat’s!
When I talked to Jonah Hill a few weeks before SuperBad was released last year, I asked about a possible sequel. Hill responded “We talked about it. But also like the movie hasn’t come out yet. No one could go see it, and the talk would instantly go away of there being a sequel.”
And of course, SuperBad was a big hit, grossing over $169 million worldwide and who knows how much on DVD. So what are the chances we’ll get a SuperBad 2? Seth Rogen told moviehole that the studio has been after them to do a sequel ever since the film was released nearly a year ago, but they’ve ultimately decided not to make a sequel.
“They’re been wanting us to do a sequel to Superbad for so long – but we’ve held off,” Rogen said. “We eventually said No.”
But Rogen isn’t against the idea of sequels all together, adding that he would love to make another Pineapple Express if all goes well.
“If it did well, and they gave us like $50 million dollars, as opposed to the $26M we got for this one, we could benefit from that.”
And from what I’ve heard, Pineapple Express is already tracking pretty high. Everyone I know who has seen it has told me that people are going to love it. And I’m sure Sony will be asking for a sequel after opening weekend.
While Slashfilm recommends sticking to your Maniac Mansion or Narc emulators for the long haul, Pineapple Express has a new Donkey Kong ripoff, featuring a playable Seth Rogen or James Franco, that might sooth your holiday hangover-slash-impressive sparkler burns. The goal: Avoid bouncy evil pineapples as you climb ladders to devour floating tacos, Big Gulps, potato chips and French fries. Click here to play.
Yeah, it doesn’t exactly set Billy Mitchell’s tie on fire (disclosure: we only played two levels). We expected more from PE, something to challenge the provocative ranks of Running Scared‘s Hot Coffee using bongs and Tipper Gore’s party line. Alas, Huey Lewis’s theme song beckons us to stay positive. Update: The video game for Step Brothers is a whole lot worse (therefore better?). Also, John McCain’s Pork Invaders remains inexcusable.
Discuss: Come up with a concept for a better yet equally simple Pineapple Express video game. Note: This is an unpaid position.
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