Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express on Blu-ray

These days, the name “Judd Apatow” is almost synonymous with the words “hit comedy.” And 2008 could be called “the year in which Seth Rogen must be involved in every major theatrical release in some way.”

Thus we have Pineapple Express, a somewhat modest (and yet anything but) action comedy about a couple of stoners who witness a murder and must flee.

Rogen stars (and co-writes) and Apatow produces, with a supporting cast that includes James Franco (in his best performance, like, ever), Gary Cole, Rosie Perez and Danny McBride. And while it’s not quite the piece of cinematic brilliance they’d like it to be, it does make for an entertainingly over-the-top experience.

Essentially the Rogen/Apatow version of the Harold & Kumar movies, it features several set pieces that increase in absurdity as the film progresses. It all builds up to a quite hilarious (and ridiculous) climax of less than epic proportions.

For the most part, it’s pretty funny. But not all of the bits work, and at just shy of two hours (for the unrated version) it can tend to drag a bit. Fortunately, the beginning and end are good enough that it’s worth sticking it out.

Most notable are the performances by Franco and McBride, who help ease things along.

While not quite perfect, Pineapple Express is a worthy addition to the stoner comedy genre.

On Blu-ray, the film looks surprisingly good. Comedies often get lesser treatment because image quality is a lesser priority. Pineapple Express doesn’t rival Transformers or The Dark Knight, but it’s probably the finest-looking comedy we’ve seen on the format so far. Overall detail is excellent, with fewer traces of grain than some more high-profile releases (like Wanted, for example). The only real flaw is that the colors can sometimes look a little dull, which is an odd choice for a film aimed at stoners. The audio is clear and makes excellent use of the 5.1, but we found it a tad quiet. We had to turn the volume up a few points louder than we normally watch movies at. A few points, however, is not a big deal.

The extras department is where the disc really shines. First of all, a digital copy is included. Second of all, there is more supplemental material here than you’d think there could be. The audio commentary features Rogen, Apatow, director David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Ed Begley Jr., Rosie Perez and Craig Robinson. It’s a fun commentary that features little dead space and sports a good mix of amusing anecdotes and technical information. There’s also an exhausting number of featurettes (some pretty short, others not so much) that focus on, well…everything. From the making of the film, to Ed Begley Jr.’s cleaning products, they really didn’t miss anything. Finally, there is an extensive collection of deleted/extended/alternate and “raw footage” scenes. Together it’s nearly an hour of stuff, most of which is random and unrelated to the movie. Some of it is pretty funny, though.

If you’re a fan of the movie, it’s hard to imagine there being a more definitive edition than this one.

Pineapple Express, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
117 minutes, 2.40:1 1080p High Definition, Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Starring Seth Rogen, James Franco, Gary Cole, Rosie Perez and Danny McBride
Screenplay by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg, directed by David Gordon Green

Step BrothersStep Brothers on Blu-ray

While it’s true that Will Ferrell has been completely over-exposed in the last five years, it’s also true that there are few people as consistently funny.

Not all of his movies quite hit the mark, but they’ll generally have enough going for them to be worthy of your time (at least more so than a lot of other so-called “comedies”).

Step Brothers, the latest in the endless onslaught of Ferrell films, sits closer to the top of the quality list than some others, but it’s as much due to the presence of John C. Reilly as Ferrell himself.

Brennan (Ferrell) and Dale (Reilly) are 40-ish, but their personalities are stuck in grade school thanks to some seriously excessive parental smothering. They can’t keep jobs, or take care of themselves, or even function normally in society. So it’s a magical coincidence when their respective single parents meet and fall quickly in love.

One thing about being a spoiled “child” (for the sake of argument) is that you resent the presence of another spoiled child. Naturally, Dale and Brennan butt heads right from the start, and their antics seriously take a toll on the new marriage. And once they become best friends, things go from bad to yikes.

Step Brothers is worth watching multiple times strictly for the immature interaction between Ferrell and Reilly. A born comedic duo, we would gladly watch any scene from any movie that features these two fellas.

Like Ferrell movies in general, not everything here quite works, but overall it’s pretty hilarious. We found it more enjoyable than both Anchorman and Talladega Nights (though the former would be a close second). The main issue is that it tries too hard to be a “good movie” rather than just being a massive laugh-a-thon. As such, it feels slightly unfocused and there’s too much unnecessary sap.

If you think you’re the kind of person who would enjoy a film such as this, you’re probably right. If you’re offended by potentially offensive material, you’d do well to stay away.

Both the video and audio quality are fine, but don’t really stand out in any way. With such stellar competition, it’s hard to have too much to say about such a mediocre presentation. It’s vastly superior to the DVD, yes, but not even as good as other comedies like Pineapple Express or Superbad. The audio, especially, is particularly tame, with surprisingly little depth for a Dolby HD track.

The main highlight of the extras section is the nearly two hours of deleted, extended and alternate material. Many of the bits that were clearly (at least partially) improvised in the film are expanded upon here, shown over and over and over with slight variations. It may sound interminable, but with such talented comedians, it’s always fun to hear what else they can come up with. There’s also a couple of featurettes, an audio commentary, a short mockumentary on co-stars Richard Jenkins and Mary Steenburgen, and a trailer.

Step Brothers, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
106 minutes, 2.40:1 1080p High Definition, Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Starring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Richard Jenkins, Mary Steenburgen
Screenplay by Will Ferrell & Adam McKay, directed by Adam McKay


Super TroopersSuper Troopers on Blu-ray

In Super Troopers, Broken Lizard has done for highway patrolmen what National Lampoon did for fraternities in Animal House.

It's the same kind of humor, and is probably best enjoyed with beer and a group of friends.

A group of highway patrolmen spend their days goofing off and never really getting anything done. When they do pull someone over, it's for the wrong reasons. But either way, they have fun doing it. They're the laughingstock of the state, as the "real cops" of town are constantly showing them up.

But when a murder happens on their turf, the inept group has to work together and stop playing around in order to solve the murder and prevent their funding from being cut.

Broken Lizard is a group of college pals who decided to start a comedy troupe. Super Troopers is their first high-profile feature film. Made for around $3 million, it collected nearly $20 at the box office. Hopefully this will be a good enough reason for them to make more movies, since Super Troopers is pretty damn funny.

To make matters more interesting, we're not sure why it's funny. It just is. It's a group of guys doing stupid things and it makes us laugh. Maybe it reminds us of the days when we did stupid things (we call those "weekdays"), but whatever the reason, Super Troopers is more entertaining than a lot of the "comedies" coming out these days.

At 100 minutes, it doesn't overstay its welcome, but is long enough that you don't feel gypped.

So sit down with a group of your immature friends, pop open the beer and enjoy this mindless, pointless comedy.

Naturally, Super Troopers doesn’t scream for a fancy-schmancy Blu-ray presentation. Audio and video are purely average, not living up to some of the better comedies like Pineapple Express, but surging past even some more worthwhile films like Commando or Out for Justice. It’s vastly superior to the DVD, and that’s about good enough.

First on the extras list are two audio commentaries by Broken Lizard. The first features Jay Chandrasekhar (who also directed the film) and Eric Stolhanske, and the second features remaining Lizard members Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme and Paul Soter. There are also some outtakes and extended scenes, an alternate ending, a six-minute featurette, and the trailer.

Exclusive to the Blu-ray release are a couple of extra extras. Most notable is the Picture-in-Picture commentary that has the group looking at you while commenting on the film. There’s also the Super Troopers Drinking Game which is pretty self-explanatory (or is it…?)

Super Troopers, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
100 minutes, 1.85:1 1080p High Definition, 5.1 dts HD Master Audio
Starring Broken Lizard, Brian Cox, Daniel Von Bargen and Marisa Coughlan
Produced by Richard Perello
Written by Broken Lizard, Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar.

Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.

Buy the eBook
Ransom for the stars
of Jim Bray's
fantastic Sci-Fi Adventure