By Jack Rico
** On December 10th, 2014, a group of critics were invited by Sony Pictures to watch – THE INTERVIEW. I was one of them. Here are my thoughts on the now historic and controversial action-comedy, which most likely will never be seen.
The “1-4-0″: #TheInterviewMovie is an above average comedy which though isn’t a masterpiece, it did provide some hearty laughs and a memorably cool Kim Jung-un character.
The Gist: A talk show producer and his host are asked by the CIA to kill Kim-Jong-Un, the North Korean leader, during a world exclusive one-on-one interview.
What Works: Seth Rogen, who directs, writes, produces and stars in the film, and James Franco (who executive produces) are blessed with having a remarkable chemistry amongst each other. From the films they have done together – Pineapple Express, This Is The End – they distinguish themselves from the rest of the comedy pack by not only possessing a natural, organic, hypnotic rapport, but they’re inventiveness, originality and improvisational skills are currently unmatched, sans Jonah Hill. Unlike most comedies, there is a real storyline to play with here. There’s no “winging it” narrative or reductive plot reserved for stoners; Rogen’s character actually serves as a “realistic” subject to Franco’s histrionic, uber-vexing, terribly constructed persona. Rogen plays TV producer Aaron Rapoport, who is interesting to watch because he deals with what most real TV producers are concerned with at some point in their careers – how they are perceived by their colleagues and the value of what they create (i.e: Jerry Springer vs. 60 Minutes). This is how the film begins and it almost feels like a real good spoof of Michael Mann’s The Insider. Then by the second half, any trace of complexities in Rogen’s character is vanished. We’re now at the mercy of the quality of humor by our creators and as you know, that is always a risk. Apart from the script and the caliber of the hilarity, the performances are well done and Randall Park (Kim Jung-un) is fantastic.
What Doesn’t Work: As with most comedies, jokes fall flat and some work. The comedies where most of the laughs do work are usually the ones ultimately praised. With The Interview, it manages to provide much more laughs than expected, but as aforementioned, Franco’s over-the-top, really annoying performance, gets tiring very fast and what is left is excruciating to watch. I couldn’t stand him and it did ruin a great portion of the film for me. Also, whatever social commentary Franco was trying to get across about America’s media culture and global politics, is secondary to his megalomaniac-ism, dumb faces, and his irrationally bizarre decisions and points of views.
Pay or Nay? Pay (if it is ever released). This is a buddy movie, actually, it is 2 buddy movies in one. First, it’s Franco and Rogen, then it is Franco and Kim Jung-un. The latter is much more memorable. Whatever “controversy” lies in this movie for North Korea to have actually created a cyber-WWIII on Sony is just pure hyper-sensitivity by the North Koreans. The way Kim Jung-un is portrayed is actually cool. He is probably the coolest character in the film. He drinks, smashes ass, plays basketball, pow-wows with his homies and listens to Katy Perry while leveling forests with a Russian Stalin old school tank. It is obvious that the North Korean government does not have a sense of humor and we all lost out in seeing a funny movie for the hoidays. Oh well, at least we have Chris Rock’s Top Five, which is a better, smarter comedy anyway.
Rated: R for pervasive language, crude and sexual humor, nudity, some drug use and bloody violence.
Release Date: December 25th, 2014
Screenplay: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, Dan Sterling
Director(s): Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, Timothy Simons, Randall Park, Diana Bang, Charles Rahi Chun, Anesha Bailey, Alice Wetterlund
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Film Genre: Comedy