Movies Like Pineapple Express That You Should Watch ASAP

"Pineapple Express" is one of the funniest films of the 21st century and an essential watch for fans of the Apatow generation, which grew up loving the work of Seth Rogen and James Franco. Rogen and Franco had worked together first in "Freaks and Geeks," and their comedic partnership continued throughout the following decades, often yielding unexpected results: The pair nearly started an international crisis with "The Interview," for instance, and produced a genuinely heartfelt award season contender with "The Disaster Artist."

However, 2008's "Pineapple Express" distilled their personalities to perfection. Franco stars as the friendly weed dealer Saul Silver, who is without any ambitions and lives in his own reality. Rogen's Dale Denton works a day job, even if he admittedly puts very little effort into it, and he's drawn into an eccentric crime plot when he witnesses a crime outside of Silver's apartment. The two wacky stoners are forced into an action buddy adventure in a subversion of genre tropes — these are the characters that would generally be the comedic relief, not the leads.

David Gordon Green is a fascinating filmmaker. While he began his career directing independent dramas like "George Washington" and "All the Real Girls," he steadily transitioned into studio fare with star vehicles like "Our Brand is Crisis" and "Stronger." Green recently took the helm of the new "Halloween" franchise, and his natural versatility made "Pineapple Express" even more unique.

If you love "Pineapple Express," check out these movies.

Long Shot

Rogen is a unique movie star, and he's much more versatile than he's often given credit for. Although he's often characterized as a "loveable loser," Rogen has evolved throughout his career and delivered various types of performances. He's shown that he can work within dramatic fare with "Steve Jobs" and "Take This Waltz," launched the "Neighbors" franchise, delivered sensitive supporting roles in "Funny People" and "50/50," and even tried his hand at being an action hero with "The Green Hornet."

"Pineapple Express" features one of his most iconic characters, but the 2019 romantic comedy "Long Shot" is perhaps the single most underrated work in his entire filmography. The film follows a surprising romance between Rogen's idealistic journalist Fred Flarsky and the U.S. Secretary of State Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron). Field was Flarsky's childhood babysitter, and he's been in love with her ever since. Field's achievements are underappreciated by the President (Bob Odenkirk), while Flarsky has been fired for refusing to abandon a story that could expose his publication's corporate sponsors.

A throwback to classic '90s romantic comedies about two completely opposite characters who fall in love, "Long Shot" transformed Rogen's wacky idiosyncrasies into a forward-thinking, active character. He still gets to do plenty of physical gags, but the film doesn't characterize him as a buffoon with poor intentions. Rogen is never shy about his politics, and "Long Shot" is blunt in its message about media corruption without ever losing its comedic grace.

Inherent Vice

"Pineapple Express" is one of the definitive stoner movies of all time, but the film is distinct from the purely comedic fare of the "Friday" or "Harold and Kumar" franchises. Saul and Dale live in a version of reality that is at least somewhat relatable, and they actually grow as characters when forced to become heroes. The depiction of stoner culture is humorous, but not completely stereotypical, and the action element offered a welcome addition to the genre. It's hilarious to watch perpetually high characters try to solve a conspiracy when they can barely follow one train of thought.

The stoner comedy adventure film got an elevated take when one of the greatest filmmakers of the generation decided to tackle the subgenre. Paul Thomas Anderson's 2014 adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's mystery novel "Inherent Vice" is uproarious thanks to its stoner lead character Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), a private eye whose investigations tend to go awry thanks to his smoking habits. A satire of noir fiction that pays homage to classics like Robert Altman's "The Long Goodbye," "Inherent Vice" drew critical acclaim and received an Academy Award nomination for best adapted screenplay.

Phoenix creates an instantly loveable lead, who is surprisingly not that dissimilar from Saul and Dale. Doc is drawn into situations where he accidentally reveals the corrupt politicians of 1970s Los Angeles, and he never treats his revelations with much more than amused laughter. Furthermore, Phoenix demonstrates the same aptitude for physical comedy that Franco did in "Pineapple Express."

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

It's amusing to think of "Pineapple Express" as an action movie considering how much of the film is dedicated to Franco and Rogen goofing off, but the film pays homage to classics within the buddy-adventure genre. It's a classic story of two unlikely heroes who are paired together after a situation they couldn't predict, and their friendship grows throughout. Green's eclectic experience made him well-suited to direct the action sequences, particularly the famous car chase in which Franco puts his foot through a window, which has a surprising edge not seen in most studio comedies.

The buddy-adventure genre has existed for generations, but it's rarely been as consistently hilarious as "Pineapple Express." That said, one classic that may give it a run for its money is Michael Cimino's beloved 1974 favorite "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot." Like Green, Cimino is a versatile filmmaker who would go on to direct epics like "The Deer Hunter" and "Heaven's Gate." The film suggests a clash of tones based on the unusual pairing of its two stars alone, starring Clint Eastwood as the veteran bank robber Thunderbolt and Jeff Bridges as the small town criminal Lightfoot.

Like "Pineapple Express," the bickering between two diametrically-opposed characters makes the film consistently entertaining. Eastwood's grimness marks a sharp contrast to Bridge's fast-talking, goofy character. Neither character is particularly honorable in their intentions, and they're forced to form a team of criminals in order to pull off a major heist.

Under the Silver Lake

"Pineapple Express" depicts its stoner characters with a surprising earnestness, showing the realities of their lifestyle. Saul still has actual responsibilities that demand his attention, even if he rarely commits to any real work in his daily job. Still, he grows irritated with Dale, who seems to luxuriate in his carefree daily life and reaps the benefits regardless. The depiction is ultimately a positive one, as they both end up choosing to stay in action and end up defeating the bad guys. The growth of their friendship is surprisingly heartfelt.

The 2019 A24 dark comedy "Under the Silver Lake" boasts the same type of nonstop stoner antics within an adventure mystery premise. The string of wild supporting characters and surprising action sequences is quite similar to "Pineapple Express," but its lead character is completely unlikeable. Andrew Garfield's lonely stoner Sam spends most days alone in his Los Angeles apartment obsessing over classic Hollywood movies, but he grows fascinated by his new neighbor Sarah (Riley Keough), with whom he shares a few intimate moments. When Sarah disappears and Sam can't find any trace of her, he decides to focus all his efforts into determining her whereabouts.

Sam's investigation draws him into a vast Hollywood conspiracy involving secret societies and subliminal messaging, but it's never clear what situations are real and which are part of Sam's stoned imagination. It's amusing because, despite his obsession, Sarah never acknowledged her actual feelings for Sam.

21 Jump Street

The growth of Saul and Dale's friendship is treated with surprising earnestness in "Pineapple Express." The pair's relationship begins as a business-oriented one (with Dale mildly annoying Saul with his erratic behavior), but soon enough they find themselves thrust into a high-stakes adventure that will require them to work as a team. Watching them grow to appreciate one another's skills as the adventure unfolds is one of the film's greatest pleasures.

The reimagining of the classic "21 Jump Street" series into a 2012 action-comedy finds a similar blend between nonstop humor and exciting action, adding the same, lightly mismatched friendship that set "Pineapple Express" apart from other studio comedies. Writers-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have a unique ability to take ideas that seem awful on paper and reinvent them with their unique perspectives, and this one's no different: The idea of rebooting a classic television series may have seemed very cynical, but Lord and Miller crafted it into a loving satire of the buddy cop genre that paired two unlikely stars together.

Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) is a geeky, awkward high school student who is mocked by his classmates. The jock Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) initially teases him, but needs Schmidt's help studying for an exam. Both aspire to be police officers, and after working together to make it through the police academy, they're dispatched on an assignment to go undercover as high school students.

American Ultra

The stoner action-comedy is a unique subgenre. It's amusing to see uncoordinated characters try to fight, and it can be hard to find the right blend between violence and humor. Too much violence could be off-putting or uncomfortable to watch, and the stoner characters shouldn't be skilled beyond the realm of believability. "Pineapple Express" strikes the perfect balance. Saul and Dale just happen to become witnesses to a murder, and they're initially just trying to stay alive when they become targets of the amusing drug kingpin Ted Jones (Gary Cole). They learn new skills throughout their adventure, and so the action-centric finale doesn't feel unearned.

2015's "American Ultra" is an underrated entry within the same subgenre, and it's unique thanks to its high concept premise. It follows the lonely convenience store clerk Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg), who can't commit to a vacation with his girlfriend Phoebe Larson (Kristin Stewart) due to his perpetual state of anxiety. Mike is humiliated after canceling their plans, but his heartbreak is followed by an unusual encounter with the strange woman Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton), who gives him a series of codewords.

It's revealed that Mike is a secret sleeper agent in a covert CIA assassin program, and that his memory has been completely wiped. Mike and Phoebe find themselves hunted down by government agents, and Mike is surprised to discover his training. Eisenberg makes these revelations hilarious as Mike grows fearful of his own abilities.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Saul and Dale certainly became new favorites among stoner movie fans, but few stoner characters are as iconic as Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith). The frequent co-stars of Kevin Smith's "View Askewniverse" first showed up in 1994's "Clerks," and Smith's fans grew to anticipate their following appearances in "Mallrats," "Chasing Amy," and "Dogma." Their relationship has grown and developed throughout the films, and real life best friends Mewes and Smith make their friendship consistently engaging. The characters finally took on lead roles in 2001 with "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back."

"Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" puts the two loveable losers in a road trip action storyline similar to the one in "Pineapple Express." After learning from Ben Affleck (who amusingly first appears as his "Chasing Amy" character, then as himself) that the comic book characters they inspired, Bluntman and Chronic, will star in a major Hollywood action movie, Jay and Silent Bob decide to venture from New Jersey to Los Angeles to stop the production.

Along the way, they become involved in an increasingly unpredictable series of crimes, and like "Pineapple Express" there's a great number of fun side performances. The animal rights activist Justice (Shannon Elizabeth) recruits the two to join her all-female heist team, and Jay begins to fall in love with her. Will Ferrell's Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly attempts to track them down, adding the same mild suspense that Cole does in "Pineapple Express."

Burn After Reading

It's fun to see an action movie centered on complete idiots, and "Pineapple Express" constantly lampoons the crime movie genre as Saul and Dale stumble through a plot involving drug lords, corrupt cops, and rival gangs. Their perspective livens up the genre with a hint of satire, as they struggle to comprehend the increasingly complicated plot.

Few filmmakers understand satire as well as the Coen Brothers, who frequently take familiar genres and deconstruct them with their wacky characters. The Coens' 2008 film "Burn After Reading" looked at spy thrillers from a hilariously cynical perspective, depicting the various players in a CIA conspiracy as selfish buffoons.

Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) is a frustrated career agent who, upon feeling unappreciated by his superiors, decides to quit. Cox takes all the details from his experiences and begins crafting them into a personal memoir. He's unaware that his wife Katie (Tilda Swinton) is having an affair with another American agent, Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney). Pfarrer is a serial womanizer, but he's severely paranoid about his secret dealings being discovered.

Nonetheless, Pfarrer starts a new affair with the workout instructor Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand), who is trying to save money for expensive cosmetic surgery. When Linda and her wacky coworker, Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt), just so happen to come into possession of Cox's memoir, they decide to sell it to a Russian buyer. This group of selfish weirdos become intertwined in a convoluted caper the CIA irdector (JK Simmons) ultimately decides "doesn't mean anything."

Spring Breakers

James Franco delivers one of his funniest performances ever in "Pineapple Express." While the clever screenplay by Rogen and Evan Goldberg already granted him with a wealth of amusing dialogue, Franco added quirks that made Saul even more memorable. Saul sees himself as a sage provider of advice, often breaking into bizarrely philosophical ramblings to Dale with confused logic, and the sad sense of defeat he shows whenever the two encounter any mild inconvenience is flat-out hilarious. 

Franco went on to reach even greater comedic heights with his incredible performance in Harmony Korine's dark comedy-crime thriller "Spring Breakers." Korine often tells dark and twisted stories with a darkly comic slant, and Franco fits perfectly within that particular tone. The film follows college students Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Faith (Selena Gomez), Brit (Ashley), and Cotty (Rachel Korine), who decide to begin a series of small-time robberies in order to pay for their planned spring break getaway. The girls get involved with the enigmatic drug dealer Alien (Franco), who bails them out of prison unexpectedly and recruits them for his gang.

Alien also sees himself as a musician, and shares strange rap songs he's written with the other characters; he's somehow both hysterically funny and threatening as he charms the girls with his advances, only casually hinting at the danger he possesses.

Spies Like Us

One of the most compelling aspects of Dale and Saul's characters is their complete lack of any real motivation. Dale is just trying to live his life stress-free, and ironically Saul's complete ease only makes him more on edge. As a result, it's amusing to watch the pair get wrapped up in a plot that demands that they pay attention to the various dangerous characters.

John Landis' 1985 comedy classic "Spies Like Us" follows two similar goofballs who are forced to live up to greater expectations than they ever expected. Low-ranking CIA agents Emmett Fitz-Hume (Chevy Chase) and Austin Millbarge (Dan Akroyd) are utterly incompetent and are forced to cheat on tests to gain top secret information. Unfortunately for them, the government needs two expendable agents who can be dispatched quickly, and they're quickly assigned to a dangerous international mission. Landis captures the same mix of quippy dialogue and chaotic non-sequiturs during the action sequences that Green does in "Pineapple Express."

Night Shift

One of the strongest aspects of David Gordon Green's direction in "Pineapple Express" is the gradual escalation of the chaos. Obviously the film takes place in a reality where traditional logic is absent, but Green does a terrific job steadily introducing the characters and heightening the extreme circumstances they find themselves in. Great comedy requires such meticulous pacing, and Ron Howard perfected that balance in his 1982 crime comedy classic "Night Shift."

Henry Winkler stars as New York City morgue worker Chuck Lumley, who lacks any confidence and is bullied by co-workers, neighbors, and cab drivers alike. Lumley's sad daily life gets a boost through two new encounters: His fast-talking new co-worker Bill Blazejowski (Michael Keaton) pushes him to be more adventurous, and he falls in love with the prostitute Belinda Keaton (Shelley Long, in a breakout performance). The trio gets involved in a prostitution ring, where they're surprisingly able to operate under the nose of local authorities.


Jon Favreau's 2001 directorial debut "Made" features a similar central character dynamic to "Pineapple Express." Favreau himself stars as Bobby Ricigliano, a mafia associate trying to care for his young daughter — while his profession may be completely different from Saul's, he's a relatable character who's just trying to piece together the chaos of his life. Also like Saul, he must deal with an obnoxious sidekick with a knack for biting off more than he can chew. Bobby's fast-talking partner Ricky Slade (Vince Vaughn) manages to get them both involved in a money-laundering scheme that sends them to New York City.

Favreau had previously written the screenplay for "Swingers," and he crafts another engaging on-screen relationship with Vaughn here. Their constant bickering makes the mafia world more interesting, and like "Pineapple Express" both characters are forced to grow when they're put under pressure. It's fascinating to see how distinct Favreau's first film is from the rest of his filmography; before becoming one of the signature blockbuster filmmakers of his generation and prominent creative force within the "Star Wars" franchise, Favreau started off in the indie scene much like Green.