It's good to have Huey Lewis back. In the mid-1980s, when I was between the ages of five and seven, you'd have had a hard time convincing me that any song on the planet was better than "The Power of Love" from Back to the Future (unless the other song was "Back in Time," that other Huey Lewis and the News/Back to the Future track). So when the end credits for Pineapple Express roll and the accompanying song is none other than a brand-new song from Huey Lewis, it's like the '80s all over again, which I'm 100 percent sure is an excellent thing.
Actually, the '80s vibe kicks in way before that: From the get-go, Pineapple Express is a throwback to goofy, low-budget '80s comedies and action flicks, plus everything Cheech and Chong have ever done. It also boasts a jaw-droppingly great performance by James Franco, and this is a sentence I never thought I'd type.
Dale, like pretty much every character played by Seth Rogen, is a schlubby, charming guy; in this case, he delivers subpoenas and dates a smoking hot high school chick. Dale's also constantly high, so he's on good terms with his dealer, Saul (Franco), who's exactly the sort of pothead everybody knows: good-hearted but slow on the draw, cheery but oblivious. When Dale witnesses a murder, he panics and runs to Saul—and soon enough, the two are dodging a crooked cop (Rosie Perez, in what I'm pretty sure is her first paying gig since White Men Can't Jump) and teaming up with a whiny crook (The Foot Fist Way's great Danny McBride). Pineapple Express, depending on your perspective, eventually devolves or evolves from a laidback stoner comedy into a full-on action flick, but throughout, it's fast and loose and hilarious—in no small part thanks to its rambling story that gives Rogen and Franco plenty of room for improvisation. Rogen's great, but it's Franco who's legitimately awesome: With greasy hair and a half-assed mustache, he slumps through Pineapple Express with a dazed and confused good-naturedness that's so convincing and loveable and funny and a little bit sad that it's enough to make you forgive the stilted performances he's given in pretty much everything besides Freaks and Geeks. He and Rogen are so much fun to be around, in fact, that even if indie auteur David Gordon Green—the director behind stuff like Snow Angels and All the Real Girls—lets things stretch on a bit too long toward the end, you can't really blame him.