As if this film needs much of an introduction with the week of press surrounding its eventual dismissal and then sudden re-appearance via limited release and video-on-demand, there hasn’t been a more talked about movie this year than The Interview. Outside of the press (and hacking) that has been involved with the movie, at its core it is a traditional stoner comedy from the minds of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (who also brought us This is The End last year).
While some people were hoping to find a butting satire ala Dr. Strangelove or The Great Dictator within this goofy comedy, it just isn’t that and while it doesn’t try to be any different than the normal out pour of comedies, it does attempt at a unique style that seems to fall on its face.
The Interview follows fictional television personality Dave Skylark (James Franco) who is known for his wild interviews that bring out the big news in some of the world’s biggest celebrities (the film opens with a shocking reveal by Eminem). Skylark’s best friend and producer Aaron Rapoport (Rogen) is getting frustrated though with the constant manusha that they are sending out and looks for a “bigger story” for Skylark to take on.
Consequentially, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un (Randall Park) is a fan of the work by Skylark and during a brief article, Rapoport finds this out and decides to attempt some contact with the country in order to see if he would do an interview. To his surprise, he gets a reply and the two men are sent off to North Korea in order to get the exclusive interview with the reclusive leader. But before they leave, the CIA and Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) ask the two to stage a possible assassination of the leader with some ricin that would be planted on Skylark’s hand when he shakes Kim Jong-Un’s before they start taping.
The film seems stilted at the beginning and tries almost desperately to establish both Franco and Rogen’s characters as someone different than their own personalities, instead it felt more like the two actors were playing more different personalities during This is the End (when they were supposed to be hyper-fictionalized) than when the two enter the screen as Skylark and Rapoport.
As they begin to dive into the backstory of the two earning the interview with the North Korean leader, it never feels authentic and almost is like Rogen and Goldberg are treading water before the real action happens in North Korea. Luckily for most people, we know the reason why we are watching this film was to see this movie version of North Korea and Kim Jong-Un and when the reveal of the leader and country comes, it is worth the wait.
But up until then, it feels like the comedy is too reliant on its gimmick. It almost feels like the only structure of this entire operation is the log line of “two men go to North Korea to interview the leader and try to assassinate him.” Instead of building anything else around the film, the gimmick is the only stable thing and for those looking for more out of the comedy, they won’t be getting it.
That being said, it doesn’t make the movie necessarily bad, it just makes it not what you want it to be due to the controversy around it. It’s unfortunate that there is so much discussion around the film when at its core it is a stoner comedy and the jokes and gags stem from that. There are scenes with people shoving stuff up their butts, the two actors flirting with girls they see during the movie, and even a short scene with both guys doing ecstasy. So yes, on a ground level it may look bad, but on another level what were you really expecting?
In the end, the movie meets the goal that it set out and not what everyone set out for it. It is very funny at times, but what is so odd about it is that it almost dives into a Tarantino-style action piece once the violence kicks in. In one scene, Rogen and Sook (Diana Bang) are trapped in a room with soldiers closing in on them. Sook breaks out a machine gun and begins to mow down the men on the other side of the door with a soundtrack and style that looks akin to Inglorious Basterds or Kill Bill.
Sadly, Rogen and Goldberg never follow through with this stylistic choice and return to a more traditional comedy/action model more often than the other.
While many people may have wanted this movie to be the next great satire, instead it seems more like Rogen and Goldberg attempting Inglorious Basterds. The violence is over the top, the humor is absurd, and there is a feel to the film that says nothing within it should be taken seriously. It is almost funny that so much controversy lauds over it because in the end, it is all about the absurdity rather than the fact.
I think we all may have been “honeypotted” with this one.