Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Interview

Directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen.
2014. Rated R, 112 minutes.
James Franco
Seth Rogen
Randall Park
Lizzy Caplan
Diana Bang
Timothy Simons
Anders Holm
James Yi
Charles Rahi Chun
Rob Lowe
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Bill Maher
Seth Myers

Dave Skylark (Franco) and Aaron Rapaport (Rogen) are bestest buds and the host and producer, respectively, of a highly successful, but shallow TV talk show. More serious minded news people scoff at their achievements. Turns out North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Park) is a huge fan of the show and is open to being interviewed by his favorite television personality. With a chance to legitimize themselves as journalists, our heroes jump at the opportunity. The kicker is that the event will take place inside North Korea. The CIA gets wind of this and recruits the boys to assassinate the dictator. Since our heroes are far more bumbling fools than suave secret agents, hijinks and shenanigans ensue.

What always serves our two stars well in their joint cinematic ventures is their chemistry. It is again at work, here. Just because of their easy way with one another we're bound to laugh at least a few times. Franco is wonderfully oblivious to many things and exudes an inflated sense of self that serves the film well. Rogen is relegated to the sidelines for large chunks of time, but takes advantage of his chances. Since he is sitting out so often, another bond must carry the film, the one between Franco and Randall Park in the role of the dictator. It works well enough that their scenes together mostly work.

The issues with The Interview are not with the performers, but with the script. Too many of the punchlines fall flat. The setups are too transparent for the payoff to be effective. Another problem is that nothing new is done with our main characters. We've seen this type of movie before play out in an identical fashion. When that's the case, something else has to be exceptional so we can overlook that flaw. This movie just doesn't have that. It's funny in spots, but doesn't sustain it's humor long enough to distract us from its shortcomings. As a whole, it's a middling comedy heavily reliant on the personas of its stars. At times it works, at times it doesn't.

Unfortunately, we can't talk about The Interview as just a movie. We must discuss the controversy surrounding its release. A number of Koreans took offense to the film's premise and all hell broke loose. I won't recap it all, you're either very familiar with what happened, or at the very least, know how to use your search engine of choice. There is one question that hangs over the entire film. Is it worth all the fuss? As someone who isn't the target of anything that was done, it's easy to say no. It all seems pretty innocuous, right? When I think for a moment, I have to ask myself something. Who am I to say that someone else shouldn't be offended? To be honest, I do think the hacking and bomb threats were an overreaction. By the same token, Sony altering all of its plans for the film was also an overreaction. That said, I don't know what the appropriate reaction would have been on either side. I just know that when someone takes offense to something, there is going to be one.


  1. Phew, I'm glad I'm not alone with my thoughts on this one! I really can't stand James Franco but I actually enjoyed his character in this for a change, but the film itself just bored me to distraction.
    - Allie

    1. I'm not the biggest Franco fan, either. I've disliked in most things with a few notable exceptions. 127 Hours and This is the End at the top of the list. This movie has long stretches of nothing funny happening.

  2. I thought it was hilarious. Definitely one the best film they've done together, but it was a decent little watch on Christmas. Great review!

    1. Glad you liked it. Just didn't work for me.

  3. I didn't bother to watch this movie because I knew it wouldn't be my cup of tea. I enjoyed your review though. I love this: "Franco is wonderfully oblivious to many things and exudes an inflated sense of self that serves the film well." That seems to be his signature persona. :-)

    1. That has definitely become his shtick over the last few years. I actually like it because I think he's been terrible in most things save for a few roles.