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This Week at SUMO: The Candidate and Pineapple Express


Let me start by saying that though “The Candidate” may have won an Oscar it is no “West Wing.” True, Marvin Lucas (the election specialist assigned to find a democrat who can beat the unbeatable incumbent Senator Crocker Jarmon) sports a Toby-esque beard, and Bill McKay (Robert Redford) may be more attractive than Sam. But in “The Candidate” there are no beautifully written speeches which fill you with hope and inspiration, or make Jed Bartlett your write-in candidate. Quite the opposite– Democrat or Republican, sometimes you will root for Bill McKay, Jarmon’s unlikely challenger, but most of the time you won’t. Filmed in a pseudo-documentary style, the movie follows the story of McKay’s campaign. McKay, a handsome small time lawyer with liberal convictions, agrees to run for Senate only after Lucas informs McKay he can’t win– meaning he can say and do whatever he wants. At first, McKay’s honesty is refreshing compared to the seasoned ham Jarmon. But as McKay stumbles through photo ops and press conferences, we quickly see he has no idea what he is doing, and that simply believing in something won’t get him elected. McKay’s team starts crafting him into a Politician, complete with stump speeches and fundraisers. We forget that he’s not supposed to win, and he does too. Mostly the movie makes you frustrated with politics: McKay’s early attempts at a campaign bring back painful memories of Democrats’ lackluster tries for office (president candidate excluded, of course.) And as he grows into a candidate, the manipulated, fake, worst side of politics is highlighted.

I think there’s a lot of truth in this film, and I liked it. It gives us a candidate who isn’t polished, and doesn’t have a right answer for every question. We see McKay praised, and also punched. It’s just that right now I’d rather be hopeful and positive than disenchanted. The documentary style was reminded me of real political documentaries that are fantastic: if you’re in the mood for more politics, watch “Journey’s With George,” or “The War Room.”

Pineapple Express

“Pineapple Express” was a great summer movie and a good comedy. It’ll be a great way to spend Friday or Saturday, definitely the best screw date date. I’m not too into the stoner-film genre (it really is a genre, look on Wikipedia!), although I’ll admit I thought “Harold and Kumar” was a solid movie. Judd Apatow’s newest film is in a league of its own though, not only is it good, but it’s also just a weird conglomerate of cannabis comedy and intense action movie. Who knew people who were stoned could move so fast?

“Pineapple Express” is the name of a rare and fine breed of weed that Saul (James Franco) sells to Dale (Seth Rogan). Dale witnesses a murder and in shock at, you know, witnessing a murder, leaves a roach at the scene of the crime. The murderer is drug lord Ted Jones, who has sold this strain of weed only to Saul. Thus male bonding, weed-smoking, paranoia, and action sequences ensue.

I love Seth Rogan, but its James Franco who is utterly charming in this film. Saul is lonely and just wants a friend– Saul and Dale’s blossoming friendship is hilarious, as is Dale’s failing relationship with a high school girl. The ensemble is funny enough here, but then Red, Saul’s supplier is introduced into this mix. I’d never seen Danny McBride in anything before, and he is ridiculously funny. He steals the show. The three are alternatively steadfastly loyal, peeved, and violent towards each other. In the longest fight scene ever (besides the last action sequence of this film), the three destroy Red’s house through a slapstick fist fight. Some of the gags are funny, but mostly it just lasts a long time. It’s worth sitting through these super-extended action sequences for the last ten minutes of the movie; I can’t tell you how funny that scene is. Like side-splitting, knee-slapping, pee-your-pants funny. Except better.

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