The Interview





The Interview
Made in: USA
Language: English, Korean
Director: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Randall Park, Diana Bang, Lizzy Caplan, James Yi, Paul Bae, Timothy Simons
Year: 2014

Synopsis: Tabloid news sensation Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his longtime friend/producer Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen) bask in the trashy world of celebrity gossip and scandal. Although their show, Skylark Tonight, is a national hit, the duo are viewed as losers among their media peers.

Although the dimwitted and loudmouthed Dave Skylark himself is fine with the way things are, Aaron aspires to elevate the show to greater legitimacy. Their chance comes when they learn that North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Un (played by Randall Park), is actually a fan of Skylark Tonight.

Seizing a long-shot opportunity to reach out to the most isolated regime on the planet, Aaron manages to score Dave an exclusive interview with the reclusive dictator. It's an opportunity of a lifetime, and suddenly grabs the attention of the entire western mainstream media.

Soon, the US government learns of the interview and sends CIA agents Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) and Botwin (Reese Alexander) to meet the pair. As tensions with North Korea rise, Dave and Aaron find themselves recruited by the agency to carry out a daring assassination plot. During their visit to Pyongyang, Dave is to poison Kim, paving the way for regime change and a likely revolution.

But once inside the North Korean capital, the bumbling Dave and Aaron find themselves over their heads. A series of raunchy misadventures quickly complicate their friendship and mission…and in the process, brings the world closer to nuclear war...

The Good: The production value is quite good, and the filmmakers actually made the effort to cast actual Korean-speaking actors. Also, a few of the celebrity cameos are amusing.

As a comedy duo, Seth Rogen and James Franco have good chemistry and play off each other well. Some of their jokes and a few of the zany situations work, but...

The Bad: ...overall, The Interview just isn't that funny. Rogen and Franco try way too hard to elicit laughs. Franco's Dave Skylark is a little too in-your-face about being a superficial fool. His verbal buffoonery would have been effective in smaller doses, but most of the time it gets to the point where he starts slowing the movie down.

The raunchiness, profanity, and sexual innuendoes are overdone and forced. Rogen and Franco are capable of smarter humor, and it's disappointing to see them being this sophomoric.

Worst of all are missed opportunities for clever political satire, criticism of the media, and commentary on mad dictators and American foreign policy. And surprisingly, there's no mention of Dennis Rodman's infamous visit to North Korea!

Who would like this movie: The Interview is clearly for fans of Seth Rogen and James Franco, as well as their brand of humor. But the lowbrow nature of it all is embarrassing to behold. Watching two 30-somethings crack poop/fart jokes becomes uncomfortable and very unfunny in a hurry.

In the wake of the Sony cyber-hacking scandal and North Korea's official condemnation of the picture, The Interivew has stirred up a lot of hype. Was it worth getting so worked up over? 

No.

The movie is definitely offensive, but mainly in terms of its pervasive gross-out humor. No one in their right mind is going to take this thing seriously. It is in no way threatening, and I bet directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldstein could have made a better movie centering around the real Kim Jung-Un's reaction to this silly picture. 

It's a little funny (and sad) knowing that the leader of North Korea made himself look a bit foolish by going so far out of his way to denounce such a forgettable film. And Seth Rogen and James Franco didn't do themselves too many favors by appearing in a project that's far beneath their talent, and I'm guessing many audience members won't think too highly of the movie, either. 

In the end, I suppose there are no real winners. 

The Interview could have (and should have) been a much smarter satirical comedy about the media, politics, and authoritarian regimes. But on too many occasions it cops out in favor of nasty jokes and over-the-top grossness, reducing it to a head-scratching study in unnecessary vulgarity.

(2 stars out of 4) 

Review written by: Joe Yang


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