LOS ANGELES — They did it with “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” They did it with “Superbad” and “Knocked Up” as well.
Now, the studio behind “Pineapple Express” is so convinced that they have the next great Judd Apatow comedy on their hands, that they’ve been breaking typical Hollywood sneak-preview rules and showing it to critics several months before its release. So when MTV asked to include the film in its Sneak Peek Week festivities, stars Seth Rogen and James Franco were all too eager to unveil the stoner flick to a few hundred lucky new buds.
“I dunno, I think you’re the Chong,” Rogen teased Franco when a fan at the Landmark Theatre asked them how they compared to a beloved ’70s duo who similarly enjoyed altering their minds. “Oh yeah,” Franco agreed. “I think I’m the Chong.”
Although the world won’t be able to ride “Express” until August 8, the MTV audience in attendance was treated to a super-early peek at the flick, which stars Rogen, Franco and Danny McBride as a slacker, drug dealer and blowhard idiot, respectively. When the threesome get tied up in a murder, they find themselves trapped in an action movie, running from the cops, hit men and the mob.
And if the howling laughter from Friday night’s crowd is any indication, this film might just run itself up the sacred mountain of Judd Apatow masterpieces.
“You do 10 bad movies and one good one,” grinned sexy “Spider-Man” star Franco, insisting that “Pineapple” might be the best film he’s ever appeared in. Asked for his favorite part of filming, the 30-year-old looked over at his co-star and simply said, “Seth.”
“I’m from Vancouver, and they do things different over there,” Rogen told the audience when a fan asked how much research he did for the role. To great applause, he added, “Yeah, I smoke weed. So what?”
What sets “Express” apart is its indie sensibility, as acclaimed director David Gordon Green mixed high art with a lowbrow concept. Serving as a tribute to the great buddies-on-the-run action flicks of the ’80s (“48 Hours,” “Midnight Run”), the film even ends with a rockin’ theme song from the one and only Huey Lewis.
“We went to Huey Lewis himself,” Rogen grinned, remembering his persuasive talk with the music icon.
When MTV News’ Josh Horowitz, serving as the evening’s moderator, explored Seth’s unlikely transformation into an action star, Rogen had some painful flashbacks. “In the scene where James runs into the tree, he actually cracked his head open and had to get stitches,” Rogen remembered, offering up his patented staccato laugh. “So the scene in the movie is actually James hitting his head.”
In another scene, McBride throws Rogen’s noggin through some drywall as if they’re in a “Three Stooges” movie. “Yeah,” he laughed, explaining that it sounded easy when they first came up with the idea. “Let’s shove my head into a wall!”
Still, despite all that pain and suffering, the “Knocked Up” star revealed that “Pineapple Express” might be the first Apatow movie that the writer/director/producer is willing to revisit. “Yeah, I’m waiting for the sequel,” Franco said, while Rogen added, “Yep, we’ve talked about it.”
As the laughter-filled Q&A wound down, Rogen and Franco received one final question that could only come from an MTV audience.
“The last scene of the movie was the diner scene,” the audience member said. “So what superpower would you want to have?”
“Um,” Franco started, struggling to find the connection between superpowers and breakfast. “Bacon?”
“Unlimited coffee refills? All-you-can-eat short stacks?” Rogen laughed. “Can we have one more question? I don’t want to end it on that. Sorry, dude, but that was a weird question.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Pineapple Express.”
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