Monday, January 26, 2015

The Interview - 2014

"The Interview" - 2014
Dir. by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen - 1 hr. 52 min.

Red Band Trailer #1

by Clayton Hollifield

Some day, there will be a fascinating book written about all of the nonsense surrounding the release of "The Interview."  Which is weird, because this film is both pretty much another in a line of dumb comedies (I say that with complete affection) that have either/both of James Franco and Seth Rogen, and it's also pretty funny.  It's also not really worth all of the ado; as funny as it is, the international incident and the yes/no/maybe release of the film into theatres (and other outlets) is less proof of this being a biting satire (although it is, at times) that left a nation furious and vengeful than proof that some people don't have a sense of humor.

Dave Skylark (James Franco) is an entertainment reporter, and he's good enough at it to get Eminem to admit to being gay in an interview.  He's sort of dumb, really aggressive, and really sure of himself (which is a great mix for comedy), while his producer, Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen), is the brains of the operation.  But Aaron tires of doing fluff, especially after a conversation with someone who doesn't consider him a colleague, even though they do the exact same job, just on different shows.  Aaron wants to turn towards more serious news, and when Dave finds out that Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) is a big fan of his show, they decide to try and land the biggest interview of their careers.  Surprisingly, they're successful, and head off to Pyongyang to conduct The Interview.

I found myself surprised at how much I enjoyed the film.  There was part of me that believed that Sony probably wouldn't have dicked around with the release of a film that they thought had merit, and that lowered my expectations a bit.  As it turned out, it wasn't just another re-hash of Franco and Rogen arguing with one another, as funny as that usually is.  Perhaps it was the absence of the usual gang that populates their films (it's not that they don't hang around funny people, but after a handful of movies, you know the tone and the range of all of those guys, and there are next to no surprises left to be had), maybe it was the two of them being dolts in what was a more adult-oriented scenario (meaning that they're idiots with real people jobs, not in a XXX sense) than they usually live in on screen.  Whatever the case, whatever you think the range for a Franco/Rogen movie is going to be, "The Interview" resides in an upper percentile.

Also, James Franco killed it here.  He's done a range of films and characters, but the aggressive kind of character that he plays here was a riot.  Rogen did what Rogen does (and that's fine), but Franco had a lot of the best lines (including straight-up asking Kim Jong-un whether or not he has a butthole), and I was laughing pretty much every time he was on screen.  Beyond that, there were a lot of unfamiliar faces doing funny work; Randall Park's Kim was not a one-dimensional character, which it easily could have been, and Sook (Diana Bang) was a pleasant surprise, as well.

I'm not going belabor things here: this is a funny movie.  It probably wasn't worth all the fuss made about it, but if you decide to watch it for reasons other than patriotism (meaning, if you're a fan of these guys, and you want to see a movie with Franco and Rogen in it), I find it unlikely that you'd be disappointed.  "The Interview" is no worse than "Pineapple Express," and definitely better than "This is the End," so that's got to be a victory.  Even more so if you dig dumb comedies like I do.  The fact that it popped up on Netflix like a month after release is just butter on my popcorn; I was going to see "The Interview" eventually anyways.

3.5 / 5 - Streaming

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