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dir David Gordon Green
prd Scott Stuber
scr Danny R McBride, Ben Best
with Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Rasmus Hardiker, Justin Theroux, Damian Lewis, Toby Jones, Charles Dance, Simon Farnaby, John Fricker, Ben Wright
release US 8.Apr.11, UK 13.Apr.11
11/UK Universal 1h42
On an epic quest. Franco, Deschanel and McBride
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Pineapple Express team McBride, Franco and director Green reunite for another freewheeling comedy, but fail to recapture the deliriously silly tone. Neither a wacky spoof nor an ironic comedy, this is just pointlessly goofy.
Thadeous (McBride) is the second son of the King (Dance), living in the shadow of his golden boy big brother Fabious (Franco), who has just returned from a quest with a bride, Belladonna (Deschanel). But on their wedding day, the evil wizard Leezar (Theroux) kidnaps her to complete his nefarious world-conquering plan. So Fabius and his loyal knights, along with Thadeuos and his esquire (Hardiker), set off to rescue her. Along the way they face treachery from within their ranks and team up with the fierce Isabel (Portman).
The film takes a post-modern approach, stirring in constant profanity, rude dialog and over-grisly violence. And there are also some deranged references, such as the sleazy Yoda-ish Wise Wizard. But the comedy is so juvenile that it's tiresome, with constant banter about genitalia that seems like it was written by either a 10-year-old boy or grown men who were off their heads, laughing hysterical at anything that moves. But there's barely one real joke in the entire film. And the story certainly isn't funny and/or thrilling.
The most obvious point of reference is The Princess Bride, which was both funny and thrilling, as well as oddly romantic and sweet. This film at least lopes along at a rollicking pace with likeable actors like Franco mugging shamelessly while Portman wisely plays it dead-straight. The less likeable McBride is more problematic, as he's never remotely amusing. And fine actors like Lewis and Jones (as Fabious' knights) are left with paper-thin characters that barely register.
Basically, it's obvious that this film was a lot of fun to make, but it's a shame that the cast and crew's amusement doesn't transmit to the audience. Well, at least not the part of the audience that's sober or over 10. And the stoner aspect, which the title pun implies is the central joke, is never exploited at all. With another (sober) script rewrite and less leaden direction, they might have recaptured some of Pineapple Express' engaging energy.
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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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