Trying too hard to keep things lights amidst the violence is what ends up making Rogen and Goldberg's follow-up to "Superbad" more like "Bad Boys" or "Rush Hour" than "Cheech & Chong."

It's just another day in the life of process server Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) until he's witness to a murder by a drug tsar (Gary Cole) and a corrupt police officer (Rosie Perez), and he suddenly finds himself on the run from thugs along with his inept and constantly-stoned pot dealer Saul Silver (James Franco).

Best stoner movie I've ever watched. And there wasn't much weed smoking around either.
After last year's hilarious "Superbad," anyone anxiously awaiting Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's second effort might forgive that "Pineapple Express" isn't the most obvious or expected follow-up, as it awkwardly tries to meld together an amalgam of stoner and buddy action comedies. Because the results are only partially effective, those expecting another riotous comedy might want to lighten their expectations, because it's not that kind of comedy.

Rogen's character, pot-smoking process server Dale Denton, as he's doing his rounds. He's damn good at his job, too, even with his proclivity for being high all the time, but his regular stop to refill his supply from pot dealer Saul, played by James Franco, almost unrecognizable in a long wig and glazed look, becomes the catalyst for trouble when Dale receives a new blend called "Pineapple Express." After hanging out a bit, Dale goes off to serve his latest victim with papers, only to witness said guy, Ted Jones (Gary Cole), killing a Chinese guy in cold blood. When Dale freaks out and drives off, Jones sets his goons on him, tracing him back to Saul via a joint dropped at the crime scene.

With all of the bad guys cracking jokes, it never feels as if any of them pose any real threat or danger to Dale and Saul, and it always feels like they're trying to get laughs while fighting with each other. There's something strangely perverse about playing up murder and violence for laughs, and it's those mixed messages that are hard to get past even for the sake of entertainment. Invariably, you may find yourself stopping to wonder whether what you just laughed at was actually funny, and that's a good way to kill any comedy right there.

In the end, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's second movie definitely has its funny moments; it's just not the non-stop laughfest some might be expecting after "Superbad" so it's just as likely to disappoint the diehard as it is to convert the uninitiated. With confusing mixed messages that might leave some with mixed feelings, one can only recommend this with some reservations.