10/06/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Don't Bogart That Script, My Friend

Pineapple Express

It was very pleasant to get stoned in the sixties. Ah, the ritual of rolling a joint. Those Michelangelo's of joint rolling, whose joints did not deserve to be smoked, they were so beautiful. The frisson of Narc danger. The towels under dorm room doors, the perfect music, the weep weep of plastic clothes bags melting into a water filled pan. InAGaddaDaVida - need I say more?

One joint and the Allman Brothers' At Fillmore East could get you from
Satellite Beach to Santa Monica in one dazed car trip with gas at 29 cents a gallon and three deuces and a four speed growling out the state lines in pre-ethanol days. Dashikis and Afros, candles and light shows, multiple attendances at any showing of Fantasia.

Of course the preceding is mere reportage and inference from what others told me, and some reading on the subject.

Indeed, a book I am reading at present, My Name is Will, does a good job of bringing the druggy sixties into the similarly druggy mid-eighties. The eighties: ground zero of Nancy Reagan's 'Just Say No' campaign and the criminalization of of anything that would get you higher than a kite can fly. Except, of course, alcohol. An aside: I was once in the company of the
main lobbyist of the 7-11 Corporation in Florida, during the late eighties and he, high one night on Miller and Marlboro Lites, told me he was in the drug business: "you know," he said, "alcohol, nicotine, and sugar."

Hmmm, Nancy never said 'no' to those drugs.

A long preamble to why I disliked Pineapple Express so much.

There is a proud history of extremely funny stoner movies in these United States. Ambling, discordant, self indulgent, silly, and freaking funny. Their central plot device: cool, laid back stoners and The Man. The humor arising from making the Man look silly and in shared common moments of stonerdom. Like in California eating tacos at two in the morning. Or in Chicago, talking the Greek Gyros guy through every thin slice from the spit, like a surgeon teaching a gall bladder operation to interns, to make a perfect gyros sandwich in the wee hours. I am told that connoisseurs of the best bud are connoisseurs of the best gyros stands. Eaten, standing at the
window, looking out at a typical mid-January Chicago: weak sunlight seldom penetrating the clouds of snow hovering two stories above the city. Late night micturation against a Greystone, an exercise in imaginative ice sculpture, the piss petrifying in midflight. Or, the more universal
gustatory experience brought on by evil weed: the purchase and consumption of an entire package of double chocolate Milanos whilst watching Cops wherever you live. Now that I think about it ... no weed: no Ben and Jerry's.

This movie barely honors classic stonerdom but, when it does, is very funny. But, for most of the movie, Pineapple lobs a grenade into those hazy fond memories of experience or fondly remembered movies. According to this movie, we no longer live in the mellow pot sixties. Forty years of chemical refinement seems to have created Frankenstein pot, stem cell pot, gigabyte
pot, pot which takes gentle 'screw The Man' plot devices and substitutes automatic weapons, gut wrenching wounds, severed ears, gallons of blood and a body count that Saving Private Ryan would envy to support a ponderous plot that pot can not handle.

Turgid New Age psycho babble. No stoned word associations from Alpha to Omega, Disney to Marx, time travel to space travel. Buttons? Who invented them ... really? What does chocolate really taste like? No, in a 21st Century power pot movie, we get awkward social situations verbalized as cute, not anarchic. A god-awful complicated who-did-what-to-whom murder rampage story line that would ruin anyone's high.

The plot: God knows ... a murder most foul witnessed, friendship found and tested, a Sino-Corrupt Cop-Stoner conflict, Rosie Perez reminding us that time marches on, continuous doobie doing, an add on, for no reason, scene of selling dope to foul mouthed school kids, two corpulent African-Americans with roles that are so demeaning that I hope they skipped the premiere, a waste of two funny leads, who must be embarrassed at the power pot plot they
had to inhabit.

Worse, there is not even enough of a contact buzz to make me veer into World Market
for a Ritter Bar with almonds afterwards.

Hey! Even stoner movies need someone, as this script began transmogrifying from stoner to stupid, to say, "Don't Bogart that script, my friend. Pass it over to someone else to make it funny and funnier."