How could the Screener not smoke some weed—in the interest of good journalism—before going to see Pineapple Express? Had he not, it would have been like researching the real estate scene without doing cocaine and anti-depressants or…well, you get the point.

Apparently it wasn’t enough. Watching the audience convulse with fits of laughter at the seventh, eighth and 15th hit-in-the-balls gag, it became clear the Screener—blank-faced—was not getting the good shit.

Or perhaps it’s the lack of long-term smoking. Had the Screener been high when he saw Superbad, Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, thus just barely remembering them, the Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg/Judd Apatow thing—that dude-bonding, loveable-loser, tender-yet-raunchy thing they do, which injected a breath of freshly vaporized, shotgun-hit air into mainstream comedy—might not seem like it’s getting as stale as cotton-mouth breath.

Alas. Whatever was once subversive and refreshingly original about these guys’ films, has—in their deluge of releases—become lost and tired: mainstream, gimmicky and formulaic.

This time, Rogan stars as Dale Denton, a claims processor who listens to a lot of talk radio and dates a high school girl. When Dale, smoking weed in his car, witnesses a murder, he flees the scene, tossing his roach behind him as he goes. Is Dale paranoid or can the killers trace the extra-high-grade chronic—called Pineapple Express—to Dale’s dealer, Saul (James Franco)?

Of course they can. So Dale and Saul wind up in stoned adventures as they are tailed by goons, hunted by a crooked cop (Rosie Perez) and,

eventually, end up in a bloody shootout in an underground grow-house that’s coincidentally being raided by—of course—ninjas.

[Special Regal 14 Snacks Supplement: The Screener never realized this before, but the nachos at Regal 14 are so damn good—particularly once one gets into the third and fourth boxes. Also, special mention must be made of the ice cream bonbons, whose chocolaty deliciousness causes a nearly impossible-to-combat urge to return, repeatedly, to the concessions stand. The hot dogs, Snickers and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were also delicious on this night.]

The earlier Apatow et al films were funny because there was something real, something urgent and something zeitgeist-capturing about them. One left them feeling fresh and alive. But one exits Pineapple Express feeling kinda tired and a little out of it. Burnt out.