Freeze Frame #136: Pineapple Express

Right at the end of Pineapple Express — which follows Harold and Kumar Go to Whitecastle into the annals of the Improbably Good Stoner Movies — the three heroes have breakfast at a diner and unwind. I am no homophobe, but I believe that the only plausible human reaction to their conversation would be to laugh and say: “How gay!” I also believe that this is precisely the reaction the makers wanted to elicit.

What is interesting, though, is how David Gordon Green frames his shots. The guys are sitting at a table in a diner, two to one side and one to the other. Right behind their back is another customer eating breakfast at his table. In a number of frames, this guy is visible. It is obvious that he can hear the entire conversation. He has not appeared in any of the earlier scenes. So you expect one of the following things to happen:

  1. The guy would turn out to have something to do with the plot, and would announce his presence and function at the appropriate moment.
  2. He has nothing to do with the story, but is there simply to provide a reaction shot to the conversation.

Throughout the scene, I kept looking at the guy, wondering which of these it would be. I expected him to do something, anything. But he just sat there, eating his breakfast with nary an expression flitting across his features.

It was only after the scene got over that I realized how skilfully the director had been eliciting my reactions while keeping this seeming nonentity in the frame. There are times when you just gotta love being f***ed with like that.

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