True providence (well, an invite from a production company) got me into a preview of Pineapple Express Thursday night at BAM, complete with a Q&A afterwards from David Gordon Green. It was a funny film; it felt like the Rogen-Apatow-McBride-DGG bloc is evolving a tiny amount past previous milestones from each of them, pushing screwball, farce improv comedy a little further out onto the gangplank. Things in PE get pretty absurd, but it’s OK when they do. As the wheels come off, you’re reminded its a chummy bunch of funny guys who have tens of millions of dollars to make something that’ll hold ground at the box office for a few weeks and have a shedload of extra stuff on the DVD. Or, as Green explained the wild climax, “it only works because everything is building to such absurdity.”
Not to give the impression it isn’t a funny movie; its hilarious. I don’t bust out laughing that easily at the novies but by the end even small weird utterances and movements from characters had me giggling.
Spoiler alert: they smoke a ton of weed in the movie. Green revealed afterward it was some herb used as a substitute, and despite it tasting terrible “it was addictive.” They actually had a Technical Consultant who was a pot grower licensed by the state of California. He appeared, along with the postproduction supervisor, as a guy buying dope off Franco. The grower is the one with the rat tail.
Another interesting revelation was how much improv was used. At the end, there’s a Boy what an adventure!-type diner scene, which Green said was all improvised. He wound up cutting five different versions, testing them all in different L.A. neighborhoods and adding stuff that did unexpectedly well into a final cut.
A few more bullet-pointy notes:
DGG is working on remaking Suspiria, the Dario Argento classic, with Christof Gebert, the sound mixer he frequently works with.
Originally Seth Rogan and James Franco had opposite roles.
James Franco gashed his head badly during one slapstick scene and needed stitches in his forehead; they had to shoot him with a headband or from behind for the next week or so.
Huey Lewis wasn’t the first choice for the Pineapple Express theme song; the guys wanted Ray Parker, Jr. But there was prior litigation between Parker, Jr. and studio Columbia that killed the idea.
Danny McBride’s shitty clothes and weird wardrobe is payback for Green agreeing to do a nude scene when the two were in film school together.