It would be a completely valid question to ask why I would go to see a film like the above or "Sucker Punch" (reviewed below) on the big screen, while I seldom seek out the majority of new releases at the earliest opportunity. Well believe it or not, it's not all about 'me, me, me' and occasionally we go to the cinema to watch a film that my other half is keen to see -- almost always as light relief. You can gather from these opening remarks that I didn't think much of the latest movie from director David Gordon Green.
Mind you, the man is an enigma to me. His first two films "George Wahington" (2000) and "All the Real Girls" (2003) were independent productions and generally critically acclaimed, if undergrossing at the box office. I didn't like them all that much myself, finding them slow moving and a little uninvolving, but Green was quoted as saying that he did not make films to please a wide audience, but to please himself. 'Good for him' I thought. It therefore came as a complete shock when his fifth film was the stoner comedy "Pineapple Express" in 2008. What a strange choice for him and how unfunny a film it proved, although it was more widely seen than his earlier work. His latest movie continues his downward spiral.
Reuniting the two Pineapple stars James Franco and Danny McBride, who co-wrote the jejune screenplay, it is a fantasy fairy tale for adults -- something along the lines of "The Princess Bride" or "The Dark Crystal" with the expletives NOT deleted. I suppose it is amusing to some to hear questing princes and abducted fair maidens liberally sprinkle their dialogue with the F-word, but that joke wears very thin very quickly. Franco plays heroic elder brother Prince Fabious who has returned from his most recent quest with rescued damsel Zooey Deschanel and he asks his ne-er do well brother Thadeous (McBride) -- an expert in dwarf-humping, masturbation, and lazing about -- to be the best man at his upcoming wedding, thereby alienating his previously loyal band of knights. When the wicked wizard Leezar, an eyeball rolling, OTT baddie played by Justin Theroux abducts the virgin bride for his own lascivious ends ("Let the fuckening begin"), King Charles Dance (slumming it again) instructs both brothers to ride off in pursuit. And so their adventures begin...
Current opinion seems to be to cast Franco as some sort of modern Renaissance Man because of his widespread artistic interests, but his acting here -- where I assume he is meant to be sending up the idea of fearless nobility -- leaves much to be desired. He may be having some sort of fun with the role, but it is less amusing for the viewer. As for McBride his reluctant participation in the current quest is meant to make him into a man, but it is his natural inclination in the role that he has written for himself to remain a smut-loving, hopeless boor. First the brothers visit a CGI paedophile who gives them a magic compass and directions on how to destroy Leezar. Then, deserted by their cohorts who have gone over to the dark side, they are captured by an evil transvestite (surrounded by a bevy of nubile, topless maidens of course) who unleashes his five-headed dragon against them. In the nick of time arrives a female warrior on her own quest, played by Natalie Portman, who delivers them; she then uses her feminine wiles to steal the compass from the idiotic Thadeous. Portman seems to be acting in a different film than the rest of the cast and one can only wonder why she agreed to the role; an antidote to the traumas of shooting "The Black Swan" is an insufficient reason. Anyhow we can agree that she has a very pert 'tush'!
To paraphase one of the reviews that I have seen for this film, McBride's script encourages his two-dimensional characters to speak their mind, but the result is a weird mess of mindless tosh. How a respected Indie director decided that churning out a movie barely fit for the 15-25 year old male market was the next step in his career path is a fascinating conundrum.