Endeavoring to be a buddy-action comedy, a good-natured deconstruction of buddy-action comedies, and the ultimate stoner flick, Pineapple Express is likeable but nonetheless more skunkweed than kind bud. Judd Apatow’s latest production closely hews to Superbad’s “bromance” template, charting the pseudo-romantic friendship that develops between pothead process server Dale (Seth Rogen) and his drug dealer Saul (James Franco) after Dale witnesses Saul’s supplier Ted (Gary Cole) commit murder and the two wind up on the run from Ted’s hitmen. The duo’s burgeoning kinship (as well as that of their would-be assassins) is meant to play up the latent homoeroticism of their macho genre forbearers, but the gag soon goes cold, bottoming out during a last-act bit in which their attempts to escape bondage involves simulated sexual acts. Some ‘70s-Undertow affectations are the only overt indications that the proceedings have been directed by David Gordon Green (George Washington), as most of the film simply conforms to Apatow’s increasingly monotonous formula, which includes man-children stuck in the ‘80s, guys feeling mushy for other guys, amusing peripheral kooks (in this case, Danny McBride’s Red) and preposterous hetero romances, here supplied by Dale’s relationship with an 18-year-old beauty (Amber Heard). Mining male camaraderie for both laughs and pathos via a buddy film makes sense, but the more Dale and Saul’s rapport becomes overly sentimental, the more it seems like a phony, self-conscious conceit rather than an endearing, natural outgrowth of the narrative. Climaxing in a painfully prolonged shootout that doesn’t tweak genre conventions as much as drearily replicate them, Pineapple Express never makes more than a surface impression, albeit a fitfully amusing one, highlighted by a rollicking car chase in which Dale and Saul’s behavioral frame of reference is action cinema, and an early conversation that features Franco brilliantly nailing the glazed I’m-talking-to-you-even-as-my-mind-drifts-into-another-universe post-toke stupor.