Owain Paciuszko 20/09/2008
A stoner action movie is a contradiction in terms if ever I heard one, and unfortunately this enjoyable laidback romp doesn't quite manage to strike the same balance between something notably slack and something excessively gung-ho. In a way it is most comparable to 'Hot Fuzz' in its approach, taking something a tad mundane and trying to gradually steer it into ridiculous territory. Oddly, for something with a Hollywood budget this manages to feel less epic and frenzied come its guns-a-blazing denueoment.
The ticks against it are the extremely likable lead pairing of Seth Rogen and James Franco. Rogen continues to impress with his charming, easy-going attitude and delivery (his cameo was also the sole funny-note in the off-colour 'Step Brothers'), whilst Franco surprises as childlike drug dealer Saul. Scenes involving these two getting into pot-addled paranoia as their situation exacebates are the film's real strengths, reaching their pinnacle with a botched rescue from a lady cop.
Unfortunately in general the characters that surround them aren't quite as well crafted. The usually dependable Gary Cole (The Brady Bunch, Dodgeball) is a rather weak villain, but nowhere near as annoying as Rosie Perez's screeching sidekick. He has a pair of henchmen (Kevin Corrigan and Craig Robinson) who have an interesting dynamic that's brushed upon, and ultimately forms some of the film's most weirdly touching moments. Whilst Danny McBride (The Foot-Fist Way, Tropic Thunder) shows up and steals his scenes as supplier Red; most notably in a fight scene that rivals 'Raising Arizona' for sheer unintentional housebound carnage.
Whilst individually this fight scene, a latter car chase and some of Rogen and Franco's bonding provide thrills and laughs the two never come together quite as well one would hope and the film only really finds its tone during the final scene. Saying all that this is a very watchable film, but not quite the 80s action-comedy throwback I, personally, was hoping for.