| The Red Right Hand
David Gordon Green
Danny R. McBride
Upon leaving the cinema, I told my good friend, Mr. Wickham that I may have disliked various elements of this comedy due to my own drug experiences. He raised an eyebrow, prompting me to continue but I exclaimed that I would not tell him! No! That is between me and the fine readers of my site. I believe he is one of them, so if you're reading this, dude; look away. I told you! Between me and the readers!
Still there, readers? Excellent. Now that it's just us (and anybody with an internet connection), I feel I can continue. My history with drugs is a very boring one. I smoked a tiny amount of marijuana in high school, got really paranoid and hated it. That's pretty much it. I don't get the appeal, I don't agree with the pros and I simply do not care. The for/against argument for legalising marijuana also seems a little stupid. On one hand we have Government bodies who will gladly support tobacco and alcohol but not this particular plant - which is stupid because they could make millions off of it. Secondly, we have the end-user, which comprises of anyone who has ever smoked marijuana and liked it. These people are equally stupid, not for their choice in narcotics, simply because they think moaning about it is going to get it legalised and in the mean time have to deal with drug dealers.
So, what does all that mean? Simply put, I have outgrown the stoner flick. Yes, I used to think Cheech and Chong were sort of funny and used to continually laugh at Jay & Silent Bob even though I really don't like drugs but something has changed. I still laugh at fart jokes and if somebody says bum I can't help but snicker but not this, not anymore. Strange that. However, as an impartial critic, I feel I must rate this film at face value, for what it is and not take into account any other personally-influenced factors.
THE MOVIE! Yep, time to leaving my blathering to one side and discuss the movie. The plot is relatively simplistic in its drive. Whilst smoking a very rare form of weed, stoner nobody, Dale Denton [Rogen] witnesses a gang-related murder, panics and runs away. Coincidentally, the murderer, Ted Jones [Gary Cole/Birdman], happens to be the only supplier of said drug and therefore knows who has been in contact with it. Denton informs his drug dealer, Saul [Franco], that he is now a target and the pair scurry off into the night.
I can't say I've seen much of David Gordon Green's work. I saw George Washington a few years ago and thought it was rather well made but nothing other than that. So when I say that the man has pacing issues, I'm not sure if it was to do with the script, production or any other external factor. All I know is that for the first half-an-hour things took a while to get going; granted, once the plot was in motion, everything seemed fine but it was the opening sequences that threw me off a little. To start with, we are shown a scene that takes place in a bunker in 1937. The purpose of this scene is to illustrate the moment when marijuana became illegal. It's amusing but goes on far too long and that's the problem with the first third, it's far too comfortable with itself, far too wrapped up in its own ego to actually get on with it. Again, it sets up the premise for the stoner-life attitude and the mellow pace reflects the character's actions but ignoring that, it just slows down the film.
*May be a spoiler or two here*
Having said that, the first third opens Dale Denton's girlfriend arc, which is hilarious. Twenty five year old Denton is currently dating 18 year old Angie (played by Amber Heard - remember her from Never Back Down? Yeah, I know, it was awful) and meets up with her at school. I know I haven't highlighted this below but it's by far my favourite scene, if only to demonstrate how uncomfortable and intimidating high school is, even after you've left. More importantly, sticking with the stoner/dealer friendship storyline, this arc closes about halfway through when Dale begs her to take him back only to realise that she is a bit naïve to take someone back that quickly after nearly getting her killed. It sounds strange but any film that deviates from a cliché makes me smile.
*One more spoiler
Unfortunately, the ending is fairly weak. Having destroyed all evidence and criminals involved, Saul, Denton and Red [McBride] share breakfast together. Not uncommon in a flick like this but the problem lies with the fact that Denton still has a police warrant out for his immediate arrest and everything proving his innocence has been destroyed. Hmm...
Each character seemed well cast and more than just a 2D accessory. The two leads were both entertaining to watch and the supporting cast more so. In fact, almost everyone on screen gave a greatly commendable performance. The problems, however, do not stem from the cast or the acting; nor the script or the production - it all fits within the action/comedy frame, so no issue there. No, my main problem was the subject. I just didn't care. Two high blokes run around getting in and out of trouble - didn't care. There was absolutely no resolve and because of that, the whole thing felt a little pointless.
But there are a few morals to this story - albeit loose and subtle - the most obvious is friendship and not profiling others based on their life choices; the second is that while on marijuana most accomplish little-to-nothing and make stupid decisions and finally, if marijuana was legal, upstanding citizens wouldn't have to deal with criminals and a whole underworld of crime would collapse. So, despite the crude jokes, the blood and the swearing, there is a point being made here which makes this film a tad more original than most but still greatly disappointing.
12th September 2008
The Scene To Look Out For:
The scrappy fight in Red's house is brilliant. The brutality of the whole scene is realistic slapstick at its most entertaining and fun to watch. I did have issue with the realism of the fights contrast to the stupidly unrealistic effect of bullets on the invincible Red but that's irrelevant.
Seth Rogen is an actor I admire quite a bit but his greatest traits are now turning on him. It's a time old classic, Hollywood demands you create a new gimmick to sell but once you've done it three or four times, you must reinvent yourself in order to stay alive. Unfortunately, as funny as he was, Rogen offers nothing new and at present, is in danger of becoming a one-trick pony. Franco, on the other hand, demonstrates a complete shying from his usual character type and reinvents himself completely. Here's hoping Rogen will write himself that opportunity.
"I go visit her in high school and all the guys she goes to school with are like, strong and handsome and really, like, funny and do good impressions of Jeff Goldblum and shit like that. And like... I just feel like a fat, dumb, fuckin' stinky ass turd when I'm there"
In A Few Words:
"Better than any other stoner flick but fails to rise above the subject matter"