Late-Summer Comedies 'Pineapple,' 'Thunder' Expose Blood and Guts

"I was watching "True Romance" on laser disc, that's how long ago it was," Apatow says. "I always thought Brad Pitt was hilarious playing a crackhead and wished the guys were chasing him instead. I thought about potheads who think it is harmless to smoke it, and it would be funny if leaders of a pot cartel were as murderous as coke dealers."

In other words, "It's fun to see a Cheech and Chong film with Jerry Bruckheimer action."

Double the action laughs

For some reason, the studios decided to open two R-rated action comedies just seven days apart. While it might be a friendly rivalry — Apatow wrote for Stiller's 1992 Fox TV show, and they teamed up on 1996's "The Cable Guy"— Paramount and Sony apparently have been playing chicken with the opening dates. Thunder blinked first, shifting from a Friday (Aug. 15) to a Wednesday (Aug. 13). Then "Express" moved from a Friday (Aug. 8) to this Wednesday.

In any case, it's likely that both of the much-hyped comedies (their adults-only red-band trailers have been online since spring) will own the box office during the month of August. Excitement for one just might feed into the other.

"Based on what we're seeing on our message boards and all over the Web, the buzz on both of these titles is really high," says Matt Atchity, editor in chief at Rotten Tomatoes, which tallies critical opinions of films. "It's going to be that end-of-summer last hurrah for moviegoers. Many will see "Pineapple Express", which will probably be No. 1 that weekend, and then turn around and see "Tropic Thunder" the next. A one-two punch."

There are at least five other chucklefests of different sizes and interest opening this month. But Apatow sees it as only a positive. "There's a little bit of a tie-up on the runway, but as a comedy fan, there's nothing better on Earth than to have this many."

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