Review in a Hurry: It's a whacked-out trip, man. In this stoner comedy laced with extreme action, Seth Rogen and James Franco play buds on the lam from evil drug lords. Uneven but often entertaining, P.E. will have fans of Judd Apatow rolling joints in the aisles and inhaling deeply for more.
The Bigger Picture: The dudes who gave us Superbad (cowriters Rogen and Evan Goldberg) revisit the friends'-adventure-gone-awry formula, this time with a big hit off Cheech & Chong and even Quentin Tarantino. The plot is as thin as rolling papers and OD's on graphic violence, but the smokin' cast lights up the screen and scores lots of laughs.
Rogen stars as another rumpled schlub—Dale Denton, a process server with a high schooler girlfriend (Amber Heard) and a major reefer addiction. Pot dealer Saul Silver (Franco) keeps the stoner guy supplied and introduces him to some primo stuff called Pineapple Express.
After witnessing a murder committed by a corrupt policewoman (Rosie Perez) and a drug kingpin (Gary Cole), Dale accidentally drops his roach while fleeing the scene. The rare wacky weed leads the baddies to Dale and Saul, so the two paranoid waste-cases go on the run from inept henchmen. And the big chase culminates in an overlong climax of over-the-top action. Whoa!
The half-baked story meanders. Scenes get talky and repetitive. And the buddy-bonding beats and "bros before hos" credo—standard stuff now in Apatow-produced comedies—feel wedged in here.
But you don't have to smoke a bowl to get high on the lowbrow humor (I wish I'd counted all the fellatio gags), outrageous one-liners, and slapstick set-pieces. Rogen and Franco have an awesome comic rapport, with the Spiderman star proving a surprise hoot as the sweet, perpetually toasted loser. And Saul's supplier, an indestructible cockroach named Red—hilariously played by Danny McBride—is this summer's McLovin.
Nope, P.E. isn't Superbad, but it's not super bad, either. More like sorta dope.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Those expecting a mellow ride and a case of the munchies might think all the bloodshed is a buzz kill—shootings, stabbings, splattered brains, severed body parts, etc. So much for craving nachos...