Directors: Evan Goldberg; Seth Rogen.
Starring: James Franco; Seth Rogen.
Plot: 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.
Before I begin, I’d just like to clarify that the views I express in this piece are solely the views of myself and are not representative of The Film Magazine. I would also like to take this opportunity to inform you that I shall be avoiding all talk on the ethics of this picture, as well as any other political stances taken for or against this movie and its release. In short, this will be a review of the film as a film, not as the huge public discussion it has become.
The Interview (2014), directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, is representative of what we’ve all come to expect from Seth Rogen and James Franco starring movies… They’re the modern day “gross-out”. Where we used to have Dumb & Dumber, Dude Where’s My Car and Freddie Got Fingered, we now have Pineapple Express, This Is The End and – the latest in the line – The Interview. However, in opposition of This Is The End and, to some extent, Pineapple Express, The Interview was less free-flowing and naturalistic with a great deal of extraordinary and unusual thrown in, and was more a whole load of stupidity and forced jokes that had probably run their course before this picture was ever even dreamt up.
One instance that really reinforced the “modern gross-out” theme that I specified above was a scene in which Seth Rogen’s character is attacked by a Tiger as Franco and the CIA watch from afar (through Binoculars and satellite video respectively). The confrontation between Rogen and the Tiger was not only audacious and ridiculous as is to be expected of a movie of its type but it was drawn out with so many reaction shots included that it seemed even the film-makers knew how unfunny it was and needed to show us how to react several times for the joke to sink in.
This was representative of large portions of the movie, in general. The scenes were more awkward and embarrassing than funny, and it dragged the 2nd act of the picture on for what seemed like way too long. The Interview was simply lacking in depth or adventure, and that’s from a film that confronted North Korea, so it says a lot. Kim Jong Un or not, there’s just way too little to make a feature length movie here, despite the highs it undoubtedly reaches with particular jokes and highlights.
One thing that I can personally take or leave with Franco/Rogen movies is the over-the-top James Franco performances. In The Interview however, Franco manages to hit the bullseye more often than not and it’s actually the now typical “sensible lost in an insensible world” role that Seth Rogen portrays that grates. His developing relationship with a North Korean diplomat is possibly the worst part of the film regarding how unfunny it is. At one point we are subjected to over a minutes worth of Rogen being made out with for no reason, as he tries to avoid placing a poison-dosed palm on the woman’s body. Some awkward bra-biting later, and you’ll find yourself thanking the movie Gods that Franco’s character is back to “spoil the party”.
The story, after dragging for what seems like a long time throughout the middle of the picture, then suddenly comes to a conclusion as if by magic and happenstance, and not all in conjunction with the originally scheduled storyline, as if thought up on set, illustrating the flaws in the script and the overall downfall of this picture.
Overall, the mask of controversy and discussion surrounding The Interview will likely be the saving grace – financially – for this picture that really fails at most other ways of maintaining engagement throughout. I’m not saying you won’t laugh out loud at some scenes, but I am saying that it’ll feel like a long watch.