Pineapple Express 

Reviewer's Grade: C+

In "Pineapple Express," Seth Rogen and James Franco star as, respectively, Dale Denton and Saul Silver, a couple of 20-something stoners suddenly on the lam after Dale witnesses a gangland murder. The movie is the latest production from comedy powerhouse Judd Apatow ("Knocked Up," "Superbad"), which means it is defiantly foul-mouthed and irresistibly politically incorrect. So far, so good.

But the filmmakers aspire for more than R-rated comedy. They also want to make an action flick, and so "Pineapple Express" is bloodied up with severed ears and broken limbs. Just when you think you're in Tarantino territory, however, director David Gordon Green ("Snow Angels") yanks you back to slapstick comic hijinks. It might sound intriguing, but the result is a mess in pace and tone. The film is nearly saved by comic performances.

Franco is terrific as the dimwitted pot dealer, while Danny McBride has a scene-stealing supporting role as Red, a shifty-eyed crook who makes birthday cake for his dead cat.  R

"?Phil Bacharach

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