When I am asked who my favourite filmmakers are, two names always come up, Terrence Malick and David Gordon Green. It is once I am asked about Green that my legitimacy as a film buff is sometimes called into question. This is not because they have seen many of Green’s films; on the contrary, it is because most people have only seen his latest film, Pineapple Express.
When it was announced that Green would be directing the latest Judd Apatow produced comedy, many indie film fans were shocked. Sure enough, Pineapple Express, a raunchy, stoner buddy comedy starring Seth Rogen, is a drastic departure from Green’s previous work.
It is always fascinating to me when true auteurs direct genre films, as they always stand out in terms of originality and quality. As Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove is a high-brow-auteur-directed comedy, Pineapple Express is an absolutely low-brow-auteur-directed comedy. While I do not want to over sell Pineapple Express, it is a film that deserves to be defended. It is, by far, the film I have seen the most times, as it is endlessly re-watchable.
Many have and will continue accusing Green of selling out for directing this big budget stoner comedy, yet for those very familiar with his previous work it makes complete sense. While perhaps not obvious, hints of oddball comedy can be seen throughout Green’s films. Little moments or details in his films hint at the fact he was itching to work in comedy. For example in Snow Angels, a grown man is accused of cheating on his wife while wearing a yellow belt karate outfit.
Green was not selling out, or phoning it in, instead he was given the opportunity to work with a great script in a genre he had always wanted to work in. Just as his style is instantly recognizable in his other films, he brings over many of the same techniques he used in his previous films. From the improvising of dialogue, to the shooting style and editing techniques, this is clearly a David Gordon Green film, at least to diehard fans that is.
To many, including myself, this was taken as a one-off deal, assuming he would return to the small, personal dramas that made him great. That wasn’t the case, as in just a couple months he is coming out with not one, but two big-budget raunchy comedies. As a fan of Pineapple Express, as well as his work on the HBO comedy series, Eastbound and Down, the idea of more comedies does excite me, however my desire to see more serious work is far greater.
While his two new comedies, Your Highness and The Sitter, look great, I am still eager for his return to “serious” filmmaking. It is more than likely that Green will finish his trilogy of stoner comedies and move onto another genre, but it is hard not to feel that if he were not to return we would be losing one of the great young filmmakers.
It is strange saying this as I loved Pineapple Express and hugely look forward to Your Highness, but his films have had such an impact on me that it feels almost as if he is wasting his time on lesser material.
However, I cannot fully believe this as he is a young filmmaker who has hopefully decades of films left in him. If we were to look back on his film career at some point in the future, this period of comedy may simply be an experiment in his filmography; one which has so far has been entirely successful, and most likely will continue to be.