Penthouse Retrospective

by Paul Provenza Originally Published: june, 2010

With All Disrespect | 10 Years Ago This Month

With Pineapple Express, we kept saying, “What is this about underneath all this action and comedy and this tone?”

Is it about class division? Self-delusion? Alternative realities?

APATOW: Our friend Ian Roberts from Upright Citizens Brigade did the table reading and said, “My favorite thing is that it’s a story about a guy trying to figure out if he’s really friends with his drug dealer or if he’s just his drug dealer.”

And that was kind of in there, but suddenly that became the story that motored the whole movie: “Am I really friends with this guy?”

But it’s about Seth’s character, who smokes pot, thinks it’s okay to smoke pot, doesn’t think it’s dangerous, doesn’t think there’s any collateral damage, but he looks down on the guy whose/ls it to him. He slowly realizes smoking pot causes so much damage to him-and to other people by supporting, like, a whole crime industry.

I kinda wanted to say there are probably as many people getting killed from pot dealers as from coke dealers. Seth and I had an ongoing debate while making the movie. Seth always said it was not an anti-pot movie; I always said it was: “He smokes pot, has a terrible job, dates a high school girl, for the whole movie the dealer’s trying to kill him, then at the end he realizes, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t live this way.’”

Seth said, “Nah, he’ll probably just keep smoking pot.”

So you can see it and think it shows the joys of smoking pot, but… all I know is he gets his ear blown off, almost dies, and basically gets about 20 other people killed — so you’d kinda hope that the next day he wouldn’t run straight to the pot dealer. But that’s for people to debate.

My daughters are 12 and 7, and I think a lot about what they’re going to make of my movies. Will they think they’re unethical? That I’m promoting pot use? What I tell my 12-year-old

is that I find idiots to be really funny. That’s why they curse in my movies or smoke pot all the time: because they’re a mess, and it’s funny to watch people who are a mess try to get it together.

What’s funny is some conservative website had Knocked Up and Superbad on their list of top-ten movies. They said, one says, “Don’t have an abortion,” and the other says, “Don’t have sex before marriage.” Neither is specifically what we intended to say, but… Beneath it all, hopefully, is something positive to think about.

At the end of the day, I want to get my thoughts across and give the crowd a great time. Those things can work together.

From the book iSatiristas! Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs & Vulgarians by Paul Provenza and Dan Dion. Copyright© 2010 by Paul Provenza. Photographs by Dan Dion. Reprinted by permission of It Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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