[rating=3]Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Randall Park, Lizzy Caplan, Diana Bang, Timothy Simons, Reese Alexander, James Yi and Paul Bae
Writer(s): Dan Stirling (screenplay) from a story by Stirling, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Director(s): Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
After all of the controversy, the hacking of Sony, the decision not to show the film and then the flip-flop on that decision, The Interview has been released in a limited number of theaters, and through several streaming sources. If I were rating the movie solely on its artistic merits, I might have been more tempted to give it a somewhat lower number. But given how the people behind this movie stood up for artistic freedom, it may well be worthy of the full four tickets we give at Tailslate.
It’s a comedy. Well, since Seth Rogen is starring, came up in a group-think with the story, and is co-directing with Evan Goldberg, that is to be expected. On a side-note, I would like to see Rogen in a dramatic role with little to no comedy involved. I suspect he would be like Steve Martin and the late Robin Williams, able to move from comedic to dramatic roles with ease.
In The Interview Rogen is “Aaron Rapoport,” the man behind “Dave Skylark” (Franco), a wildly successful talk show host whose program is little more than a long-form interview version of TMZ television. He interviews figures from pop culture, trying to dig up the best dirt. The film opens with Dave doing a probing interview of the rapper Eminem. Other celebs like Rob Lowe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt make cameos involving the program “Skylark Tonight.”
When Skylark and Rapoport learn that North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un (Park) is a major fan of the program, Rapoport’s desire to handle more serious news combines with Skylark’s wanting to be treated with more respect results in the two men deciding to reach out and try to land an interview with the world’s most reclusive leader. With the help of Kim’s head propagandist, “Sook” (Bang) plans are made for the duo to travel to North Korea for a couple of days. At this point, Agents Lacey (Caplan) and Botwin (Alexander) of the CIA come into the picture and convince Skylark and Rapoport to carry out a plan to assassinate Kim Jong-un.
There are laughs, some mild and some much stronger spread throughout this movie. The flow of humor is uneven and when we watched the film’s trailers we saw some of the best bits. Any movie involving Seth Rogen will have laughs involving pot, posteriors and his other humorous predilections. That’s fine. We know going in what we will get, and this film delivers it. Aside from the uneven pacing of the film itself and its gags, the only real problem with The Interview is that when it was conceived, someone else was dictator of the DPRK. That man was Kim Jong-il and he might well have been a better target for lampooning. I don’t recall him threatening people over 2007’s Team America: World Police.
Randall Park is excellent as the current “Dear Leader” of North Korea. His portrayal of Kim Jong-un pokes fun at how the Western media has portrayed the most powerful 31 year old in the world. Rogen is solid, and while Franco is a bit one-dimensional in this role, he and Rogen have great chemistry on-screen. Theirs is a “bromance” that deserves more screen pairings of the two.