Movie Review: “The Interview”

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Christmas Day, thousands of Americans filled theaters to see a Japanese corporation’s movie by a Canadian director mocking the dictator of North Korea. All in the name of freedom — and rude, raw laughs.

And if we’ve learned nothing from the international incident titled “The Interview,” it’s that Kim Jong-un has good reason to fear this stupider-than-stupid comedy. However broad the rest of the movie might be, it’s not the movie assassination plot against Kim that would give North Koreans ideas. It’s the ridicule of their “god-like leader.”

Randall Park’s interpretation of Kim is dark, and darkly funny, a delusional turn with wincing, believable bits of psychoanalysis. Whatever else co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, working from a story they dreamed up (Dan Sterling wrote the script), present here — it’s the “common sense” depiction of an overgrown, insecure boy in a bubble who insists the world notice him that sticks.

James Franco may not seem real as Dave Skylark, an idiot TV chat show host, and he goes out of his way to amp up the wacky to make Dave as broad as possible. Rogen’s TV producer, Aaron, may show signs that he worries that he’s smarter than his boss, the host — but not smart enough to do “real journalism.”

But Park’s Kim is a stereotypical hoot, a foul-mouthed Margarita lover who keeps Katy Perry CDs in his favorite tank, a roly poly paranoid who knows everybody around him, in his “compound,” in his country and in the world, is out to get him. A dictator with Daddy Issues, who loves “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Dave Skylark Show”? We can buy that.

“You so FUNNY, Dave!”

That fandom is what gives fluff-interviewer Dave the idea to get “the most famous guy on the planet,” and also “the most dangerous,” on his show. Aaron is stunned when the interview is set up, more stunned when the C.I.A. (Lizzy Caplan) wants him and Dave to poison “The Supreme Leader” and rid the world of a tyrant with nuclear-equipped missiles that could wipe out the west coast of the United States.

Naturally, the plan goes awry when Dave starts improvising around it, and finds himself out of his depth and utterly himself charmed by their host. Aaron falling for their North Korean minder, the sexy public relations chief named Sook (Diana Bang), doesn’t help.

Some standard-issue Rogen gags — hilarious celeb cameos (Eminem, playing it straight, and Rob Lowe), the bluer-than-blue language used by one and all, his matter-of-fat-fact nudity, drug jokes — work. Skylark’s incessant “Lord of the Rings” analogies don’t, and you have to let Franco’s performance grow on you. It’s off-puttingly bad for much of the film. Then, he answers his critics with a catch-phrase for the ages.

“They hate us, cuz they AIN’T us!”

There’s also sharp and snide commentary on U.S. meddling with other countries and C.I.A. screwups mixed in with real world North Korean shortcomings (millions starve so this or that “Dear Leader” can make the world tremble at his tantrums).

“Interview” is never much more than a cult film, a Kevin Smith comedy as directed by Quentin Tarantino, or vice versa, a quirky oddity. But Dear Leader made it such an issue that seeing it is borderline patriotic.

Still, I’m guessing any plans Rogen has for a comedy mocking, say, The Prophet Muhammad, are going on the shelf. This was a costly victory that only becomes a complete victory when Anonymous loads the film onto every computer in the People’s Republic.

2half-star6

MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, crude and sexual humor, nudity, some drug use and bloody violence

Cast: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Diana Bang, Randall Park, Lizzy Caplan

Credits: Directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, screenplay by Dan Sterling. A Sony release.

Running time: 1:50

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12 Responses to Movie Review: “The Interview”

  1. keith7198 says:

    I don’t like a thing about Rogen’s brand of humor but people flock to him. The bad thing is if you don’t like this type of ‘comedy’ you’re out of luck. There are no shortages of these things being churned out.

  2. Tony Folden says:

    I paid the six dollars to watch this online. In my honest opinion, it was too much. The punchlines were telegraphed from 10 miles away and were drug out long enough to make me want to get past the joke before it even arrived. The on-the-nose dialogue from Rogen (typical of the actor) was overkill and mindless. I may have chuckled once or twice in the beginning during the Eminem interview, but 20 minutes in I just wanted the film to be over. You say I cheated by paying only $6 to watch it online, I say anyone who spent more at the theaters was cheated. http://tonyfolden.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/the-interview-the-review/

    • It’s a communal experience, like “Snakes on a Plane.” Similar quality. See it with an audience and you get more out of it, more laughs. And the PHYSICAL threat was to movie theaters, not to Sony, which paid its own high price. Thus, it’s a mistake, a lazy move on the part of “The Cagey One” and others to watch it at home and reward Sony’s gutlessness. Sony only agreed to unleash it when cinemas like the Alamo Drafthouse, et. al, gave them some SPINE. So…see it at home? You cheated yourself and those indie cinemas. Get it?

      • Jonnychops says:

        I watched it with my GF, at home, and we laughed (quite a bit). I’m a fan of this kind of silly, low brow humor – and I didn’t expect any Oscar performances in the film. Most jokes hit, some missed – and the story was (somewhat predictable, but still) fun.

        That said, I don’t owe Sony, Rogen, Alamo, you or anyone my money or presence (although I do frequent the Alamo in Yonkers; it’s a helluva experience!). There was nothing lazy, gutless or spineless about me relaxing in the comfort of my home with my lady, some fresh layered bean dip and “The Interview.” Did someone bite off one of your fingers or something? You need to tone it down a notch – get it?

      • Jonnychops has admitted that he’s no longer cool enough to bother getting up off his couch to go out and see a movie. We all hit that point in life. But in this case, you’re rewarding the wrong people — Sony.

  3. Todd Jacobs says:

    Then, he answers his critics with a catch-phrase for the ages.
    “They hate us, cuz they AIN’T us!”

    Yeah, middle school kids will love it. Doubt it will be popular and remembered years from now.

    • No, you don’t “fit the demographic.” I saw a lot of people beyond the age range this movie would ordinarily attract. They were the quickest to trash it and say “I don’t get it.”
      But the bottom line is, streaming it at home lets the hackers — North Korean or whoever — and gutless Sony, win. Going to a theater makes a statement of support for creatives and theater owners. And it works better with an audience.

  4. KG says:

    Your quote on Rotten tomatoes made me hope everyone downloads it. How pompous to preach to people that they ‘cheated’ if they didn’t go to a theatre to see this. Not only was that impossible for many outside of the states to do, but some of us aren’t so gullible and can see exactly how the faux-bans hyped this otherwise mediocre release up. It worked on you it seems, but you were paid to go to a theatre to see it and then over rate it. Beat the hype people, grab it for free because it’s not worth paying for.

  5. Roy Rob says:

    Actually I liked the film and found myself laughing quite a bit. It is not the most awful film out there.
    I thought it was well shot film wise and its location scenery spot on for depicting North Korea in all
    its glory and gore. It is a dark satire in the mold of Dr. Strangelove for our times.

  6. Tony Folden says:

    I understand that you feel the “communal experience” helped this film. While I might agree that it would have provided a bit more stimulus I don’t think it would have made me feel any differently about it. The sophomoric humor and incessantly repeated punchlines combined with lazy dialogue had me bored with the film 20 minutes in. This film broke many rules of comedy, and not in a good way, making it repetitive and dull. I chose not to see it in the theater because I didn’t think it would be worth the price of admission. I thought $6 might be an price worth paying. It wasn’t. Had Kim Jong Un not told me he would wage war if it were released, I wouldn’t have paid to see it. I applaud you for getting paid to go see the film in the theater and perhaps you would have even spent your own money, but this was not a film that would have done well had it not been surround by all the hype.

  7. Patrick says:

    Roger, the majority of the planet is not America. It is ironic you put down people for not paying to watch it when only a few staggered releases were available and still are. People aren’t avoiding a theater release because they are afraid or un-patriotic; they are simply doing what is most convenient and more often that not- all they can afford.

    You are so out of touch with many of your statements here Moore, more and more people can barely afford to feed/heat themselves; especially around christmas times.

    You should feel ashamed Mr. Moore.

    • 331 theaters, in every state of the union. You buy a ticket, you support the people with the guts to show it. You stream it, you reward Sony. Sorry, thought everybody could figure that out.

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