Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 52 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Pervasive Language, Crude and Sexual Humor, Nudity, some Drug Use and Bloody Violence
Directed by: Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Written by: Dan Sterling
Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, Randall Park, Diana Bang, Timothy Simons, Charles Rahi Chun & Rob Lowe
It has become impossible to bring up THE INTERVIEW without mentioning the unnecessary controversy around it. I would be silly to summarize the ridiculous situation that erupted before this film’s release (you already all know about it), but will say that all the news surrounding THE INTERVIEW was hyping me up to see this movie. In all honesty, I was pretty stoked. Instead of going the VOD route, luck would have it that a movie theater within reasonable distance was showing this film (complete with extra security and all). If North Korea hadn’t issued threats and Sony wasn’t hacked, then THE INTERVIEW would have come and gone as a good comedy that might be mentioned from time to time. Instead, this movie has now become an unintentional event film and seeing it in a sold out theater definitely contributed to my overall enjoyment. The film isn’t going to be as funny or entertaining if watched directly from YouTube or by yourself in a living room. If at all possible, go see THE INTERVIEW in a theater.
Dave Skylark is the popular host of a trashy talk show that covers insignificant celebrity stories masquerading as serious news. His producer, Aaron, is sick of having created 1,000 episodes of cheap excuses for journalism and encourages Skylark to aim higher. This results in an interview being set up with feared dictator Kim Jong-Un in the far recesses of North Korea. Before Skylark and Aaron can catch their flight to Korea, the CIA recruits the pair into an assassination plot to take down Kim. Things don’t go as simply as planned due to Dave’s stupidity, Aaron hitting on one of Kim’s officials, and Kim seeming like a nice guy. Wacky hijinks and political poop jokes ensue, as well as a lot of unnecessary controversy in the real world.
If you’re not a fan of Seth Rogen comedies, you’re probably not going to like THE INTERVIEW. However, I think Rogen is very funny and has far more hits than misfires. Flaunting a creative and ingenious (in bad taste) premise, the film is as juvenile and raunchy as to be expected. Rogen and Franco still have good chemistry as believable best friends. Rogen is a more serious straight-man than usual and Franco is the biggest dumbass he’s ever played. Some might find Franco to be the funniest part of the film (I’ll get more into that later on), but I found that mostly unknown Randall Park stole the show as Kim Jong-Un. Besides capturing the evil that lies beneath a good guy persona he puts on for Skylark, Park manages to get a majority of the big laughs from his nuances and goofiness as the shy dictator with a horrible hair style.
THE INTERVIEW was filmed in Vancouver, but you could have fooled me as this looks convincingly like North Korea (not that I’ve ever been there or plan on visiting there). Lots of digital trickery was employed to sell this film as appearing to take place in one of the most dangerous countries on the planet and I fell for every bit of it. The sense of humor is riskier this time around compared to Rogen’s previous work. You’d imagine that it would have to be given that this comedy revolves around the potential assassination of a world leader, but it gets graphically gory and far darker than I was initially expecting. It’s very R-rated (tons of profanity, wacky violence, and over-the-top sex) and should entertain fans of this kind of comedy. I was cracking up through multiple points in the film, a highlight of which being Rogen’s night-time encounter with a Siberian Tiger.
THE INTERVIEW is not high-brow filmmaking by any stretch of the imagination and can get too juvenile. Though some have praised Franco’s moronic Skylark, I actually found him to be the most trying character in the film. Rogen and Park got far more laughs out of me. Lizzy Caplan (who was awesome in HOT TUB TIME MACHINE) is underused as the CIA agent recruiting the pair of would-be assassins. The film compromises an otherwise hilarious crucial moment with a poop joke that felt distracting. There were also five running jokes that are used throughout the movie (right down until the end) that really aren’t amusing the first time around and become eye-rolling by the fourth time we get a certain piece of dialogue. Besides these flat jokes and two so-so characters, THE INTERVIEW is a lot of fun!
Despite how you feel about it, THE INTERVIEW has left a brief spot in cinematic history and will be discussed for absurd controversy in future years (potentially decades) to come. I can see how others might not enjoy it as much as I did, but I had a great time watching this movie. Maybe, I was partially built up to like it because of the controversy and watching it in a large sold out movie theater probably hoisted this film’s grade for me as well. If you haven’t watched THE INTERVIEW and plan on doing so, go see it with a packed audience or invite some friends over and make a party of it. Either of those would make for an ideal viewing experience. Thanks to all the craziness, hacking, and international threats, THE INTERVIEW 2 won’t happen, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel. Do Putin next!