Balls in your court now, North Korea! Academy Award nominee James Franco, Seth Rogen and Lizzy Caplan star in the recently controversial The Interview.
Director – Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Screenplay – Dan Sterling
Producer – Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg & James Weaver
Rated R for pervasive language, crude and sexual humor, nudity, some drug use and bloody violence
Dave Skylark (James Franco) is the host of Skylark Tonight, an entertainment talk show. Shortly after celebrating his 1,000th episode, Dave learns that Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) is a huge fan of the show, prompting show producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) to set up an interview with the North Korean dictator.
The next day, Dave and Aaron are visited by Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) of the CIA. After hearing of the upcoming interview, and believing that no one would expect it from these two, she proposes a plan to them that they assassinate Kim.
So unless you don’t have Twitter, Facebook, the internet, or a TV and were living under a rock for the past month or so, you may have missed out on a certain situation revolving around this film and its controversy, which came to a head after Sony Pictures canceled its Christmas day release amidst threats from North Korea, the country that may or may not have been involved in the recent Sony cyber-hack. Looking back, all parties involved wound up looking like idiots: the Sony studio hackers, the theaters and their knee-jerk reactions, and most of all, Sony Pictures themselves. Once cooler heads prevailed, Sony, earlier this week, decided to go ahead and release The Interview both in limited theatrical release and Video On Demand.
Either Sony was the victim of cyberterrorism, or they were the mastermind behind one clever marketing trick. Regardless of this film’s quality, The Interview succeeded in piquing people’s curiosity and getting everyone talking about it.
After seeing this, I’m trying to wrap around my head exactly how pathetically insecure could anyone be to feel threatened by a film this absurd.
The Interview is, as I just said, absurd and stupid, but to it’s credit, is very much knowingly absurd and stupid. Yet for all the hoopla this film has amassed over the past week, it’s merely okay.
The premise here is absolutely ripe for satire (somewhat in the same vein as the Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd ’80s vehicle Spies Like Us), and co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have already proven they can hit it out of the park with This Is the End. Instead of capitalizing on any social or political satire the story gives them, though, Rogen and Goldberg fall back on lowbrow humor. Every now and then, the two come up with an opportunity to riff on say celebrity media, the CIA or international politics, and while they touch on each of those topics, they don’t really tap into them as much they could’ve. It’s definitely a “whatever it takes to get a laugh” strategy that results in hit-or-miss humor. If only Rogen and Goldberg perhaps took a breath and focused on a sharper, more biting take on their material, they might’ve had a better film on their hands.
Things start out nicely in the first-act, particularly during Dave and Aaron’s assassination training which involves a frustrated Lizzy Caplan maybe second-guessing the idea of placing the fate of a third-world dictator in the hands of two inept idiots. But then it starts to drag in the second-act as jokes about whether Kim Jong-un can or can’t poop and pee get repeated over and over again. It’s not until we finally meet the dunderhead of a dictator (played with amusing energy by Randall Park) that things start to pick back up again.
The weakness of the film, and it’s a shame to say this ’cause he’s a talented actor, is James Franco, who dials up his hammy performance to obnoxious levels. It works when he’s with Park ’cause they’re both acting at the same level, but when he’s with Rogen, who’s playing his role much more grounded, the chemistry between them feels off. I get that Franco’s sorta spoofing a Perez Hilton/Maury Povich type, but his performance lacks the believability that Rogen at least brings to his character.
I laughed throughout this film; in fact, I laughed more often than not, but only slightly. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are both capable of creating gut-busting laughs, but kinda squander a promising premise to churn out repetitive scatological jokes that hold the film back from being as consistently funny as it could’ve been. In the end, The Interview will be more known for the controversy surrounding it which created hype and attention toward the film it really didn’t deserve. Give it about 2-4 months and we’ll all be wondering what the big deal was.
I give The Interview a C+ (★★½).