Pineapple Express, 15
The Women, 12A
Eden Lake, 18
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, 12A

Is it a fruit? Is it a train? No, it's wacky baccy to die for

Do we really need another comedy produced by Judd Apatow this year?

Probably not, but Pineapple Express is the best of them, and it could be the year's best comedy, full stop. It still has the semi-improvised, man-childish banter you'd expect from the Judd Squad; the difference is that it also has a thriller plot, giving it a momentum that wasn't there in Step Brothers or Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Some stricter editing would have helped, just as it would help all of Apatow's films, but in this instance you'd only chop out about 10 minutes, which is 10 fewer than usual.

The film was written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who also scripted Superbad and Drillbit Taylor. It stars Rogen as a Los Angeles stoner who witnesses a gangland shooting. Realising that the wacky baccy he dropped at the scene could identify him, he goes on the run with his pot dealer, an effortlessly affable James Franco. The film harks back to the mismatched-buddy movies of the 1980s, except that the heroes are far more bumbling than Eddie Murphy and Mel Gibson ever were, and therefore more endearing. The gloriously clumsy fight scenes and car chases are as funny as the dialogue, and the dialogue is as sparky as anything the Judd Squad has come up with. "Pineapple Express", we're told, is a marijuana strain so rare "that it's almost a shame to smoke it. It's like killing a unicorn".

One thing we definitely don't need this year is another comedy about four middle-aged, well-to-do, cocktail-swigging Manhattan fashionistas, but here it is anyway – a film that is, officially, a remake of the 1939 classic, but which is actually so similar to Sex And The City that you'll spit out your Cosmopolitan whenever you hear Annette Bening's uncanny Kim Cattrall impersonation. The other shallow, hysterical characters are played by Meg Ryan, Debra Messing and Jada Pinkett Smith, with Eva Mendes as the shop girl who lures away Ryan's Wall Street husband. But while the cast is, arguably, as stellar as Sarah Jessica Parker and co, everything else is as cut-price and fake as counterfeit Jimmy Choos. If The Women represents women, then I'm a born-again misogynist. The worst thing is that the film was co-financed by Dove, the soap company, and the end credits conclude with the stars waffling on about Dove's "campaign for real beauty". Ryan has had her face altered so drastically since When Harry Met Sally that real beauty isn't something she's qualified to discuss.

Eden Lake and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas are two very different films from British writer-directors, but they both throw up the same worrisome questions. The former is a chav-sploitation horror movie starring Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender as a pair of loved-up Londoners who go camping in the woods, where they're set upon by some authentically obnoxious hooligans, including Thomas Turgoose. The latter film is a child's-eye view of the Holocaust, in which an eight-year-old SS commandant's son befriends a concentration camp internee, without understanding the plight of the boy on the other side of the barbed wire fence.

Eden Lake is unpleasantly gory, rather than frightening, but it's an effective survival thriller, just as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a well-constructed, honourable fable, adapted from John Boyne's award-winning children's novel. Both films have powerfully bleak endings that raise them to a new level. But they both leave you asking whether a solid genre movie is enough to do justice to the serious subject matter. Considering that one film is about genocide, is its shiny, fairy-tale surface appropriate? And considering that today's headlines are splattered with adolescent knife crimes, should anyone be translating those headlines into a scaremongering shocker?

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson on stage

film
Arts and Entertainment

Grace Dent on TV

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
art

‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us