Pineapple Express is the latest of many, and I mean many, films to get the Judd Apatow stamp of approval. Written by (and I uses that word loosely) and staring Seth Rogen, the film follows Dale (Rogen) and his pot-dealer Saul (James Franco) as they try to evade a ruthless drug czar (Gary Cole) and his partner (Rosie Perez) who just so happens to be a crooked cop. That pretty much sums up the movie in a nutshell. The plot is ridiculously thin, and some of the dialogue is pretty cheesy. Yet as far as stupid buddy comedies go, Pineapple Express had me laughing out loud on numerous occasions. The strength of the film, for me, was the performance of James Franco. Mostly known for his serious work (i.e. “James Dean”, “Sonny”, etc.), and his less than stellar work in the “Spider-Man” series, Franco has brilliant comedic timing. While many will argue that it is easy to play a stoner; it is hard to get the consistent level of laughs that Franco achieves in this film. James Franco is the prefect accomplice to Rogen’s straight man. The chemistry between them is so good, that it helps keep the film from drowning in the sea of absurd. It would have been nice if Rogen and Apatow had tightened up the script a lot more, and reduce the gore a bit (really they were just stretching for laughs by that point). The whole production is a tad sloppy. I guess that is the price one pays when you are churning out comedies every other month. Pineapple Express will not revolutionize the buddy action comedy the way “40 Year-old Virgin” did with romantic comedies. Frankly it may not even last in your consciousness a week after viewing. Still, while not as strong as “Knocked Up” and “Superbad”, or even “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” for that matter, the movie has enough laugh-out loud moments for me to recommend.
The life of Ghengis Khan was a complicate one…or so I assume. You see “Mongol” is a film that sets out to tell how Ghengis Khan came to be. Unfortunately this film plays more like Star Wars Episodes 1 to 3 rather the juicy epic one would hope for. We see how from an early age Anakin…err…Temudjin endures great hardships for the sake of love. That’s right, the majority of “Mongol” is a love story centered around the numerous times that Temudjin and his wife, Borte, are separated by war, code, ritual, etc. Only to be brought back together again by love and determination. Sure we get brief glimpses of the famous warrior Temudjin will become but they are too few and far between. The film only really starts to pick up when Temudjin decides to unite all the Mongols under his own set of laws. Temudjin's laws are an attempt to make the Mongols more compassionate towards each other. This is interesting considering that the punishment for breaking his laws was fatal. The highlight of the film comes at the end when we see, through a vicious battle, Temudjin embodying the fearsome strategic warrior that Ghengis Khan would be known for. It is a shame the film did not start off where it ends. While the early life Temudjin blends, what I can only assume, factual events and mythological lore; it is nowhere near as interesting as how Ghengis Khan conquered half of the world. Similar to Star Wars prequel, “Mongol” makes the mistake of trying to make a fearsome warrior way to compassionate. Yes Khan loved his wife, but is that fact more important than Khan’s many successes and failures in battle? If you are hoping to learn something interesting about Ghengis Khan, then skip “Mongol” and get yourself to a library.
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