Speaking generally, Pineapple Express is one of those movies that can't compare to its excellent trailer. Not that the rest of the movie is any sort of disappointment -- on the whole, it's pretty good -- but you've probably already seen the funniest parts.
But within the genre of stoner movies, I'm guessing (guessing!) it's one of the best. Select members of the audience laughed harder at certain points than the rest of us. Laughter from knowledge, maybe? Which made me think: could this movie be used as some sort of sting operation? Before the lights went down, I looked around for anybody who didn't quite fit and could have been a narc; I quickly discovered that the most likely candidate was me.
Aside from a 1939 opening sequence that explains America's domestic policy on marijuana, the film takes place over roughly a 48-hour period. A process server (Seth Rogen) and his dealer (James Franco, once discussed here) get caught in the middle of a turf war between two drug empires, going on the run and trying not to get killed in the process. The film is more violent than you'd expect -- there is a significant body count -- which reminded me a bit of last year's buddy action comedy Hot Fuzz, only with weed.
The movie is silly enough to not take the plot seriously, but also a product of deliberate design. The dialogue is witty and intricate, multiple characters are developed, and the friendships are believable. (I especially liked the amorphous jealousy between the hitmen played by Craig Robinson and Kevin Corrigan.) The movie has a kind of timeless quality to it, with no technologies or cars that might make it look dated. I think the filmmakers knew that stoner movies tend to have longer shelf lives, and made Pineapple Express to look just as appealing 20 years from now.
Or, as the person next to me said, "That was sobering."