The Interview, 2014.
Directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen.
Starring James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, Randall Park, Timothy Simons and Charles Rahi Chun.
Dave Skylark and producer Aaron Rapoport run the celebrity tabloid show “Skylark Tonight.” When they land an interview with a surprise fan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, they are recruited by the CIA to turn their trip to Pyongyang into an assassination mission.
Judd Apatow is kind of like my John Hughes. Superbad came out right around the time I was in high school and sparked my interest in film. Out of the Apatow crew, the one who resonated with me the most was Seth Rogen.
After a string of hits like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Superbad and Pineapple Express, Rogen’s career became a little muddled with mediocre entries like The Green Hornet. Then he and Evan Goldberg came out with This Is the End, which they wrote and directed, and my faith was restored. So when I heard the premise of their controversial film The Interview, I was excited based purely on how good their previous film was.
Now The Interview is here, and the question is, was the movie worth the controversy? Well, yes and no. It was in North Korea’s best interest to keep this movie from being shown, but the main problem with this movie is how it doesn’t really say much that hasn’t already been said about North Korea.
The premise is that Seth Rogen and James Franco’s characters get a TV interview with Kim Jong-Un and the CIA recruits them to assassinate him. There’s a pretty clever item essential to the assassination that might have been inspired by Breaking Bad, and just like you’d expect hi-jinks ensue.
The positives are what you’d expect. Seth Rogen and James Franco have excellent on screen chemistry and surprisingly the story is pretty easy to swallow despite its ridiculousness. James Franco is the best he’s been since Pineapple Express and Seth Rogen is playing the straight man here, which works pretty well and offers something different from his typical character. Randall Park is easily the highlight of the movie. The way he plays Kim Jong-Un is extrememly believable and he handles the comedy just as well as the drama and makes Kim a somewhat sympathetic character.
The problem is the writing, which comes from Dan Sterling. There are spots where you can tell Seth Rogen stepped in and peppered the script with some great nuggets of physical comedy and funny dialogue, but overall this movie is a bit too broad. I’m getting tired of comedies where a character is stupid to the point of absurdity just to move the plot forward. James Franco has two-to-three moments of extreme stupidity. The first one was fine because it was funny, but from then on his character is extremely annoying and unbelievable.
I expected The Interview to be more bold but honestly this movie will only work for people that live in North Korea. Everybody else in the world already knows how much of a monster Kim Jong-Un is. It would have been more interesting to see a real commentary on the politics in North Korea, or maybe even portray Kim Jong-Un as a sympathetic character who decides to try to become a good guy. It’s kind of in the middle somewhere, whilst not being satisfying to either side.
Overall The Interview is not a movie to rush out and see. Go see this in theaters – sorry, VOD – if you literally have nothing else better to do. A disappointing entry for Seth and Evan, whose directorial debut was so much more daring and engaging.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★