The Interview (2014)
Directors: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Screenwriter: Dan Sterling
Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Randall Park
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 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 Pineapple Express, The Interview is less free-flowing and naturalistic with a great deal of extraordinary and unusual thrown in, and is a whole load of stupidity and forced jokes that had probably run their course before this film was ever even dreamt up.
One instance that really reinforces the “modern gross-out” theme is 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 is not only audacious and ridiculous as is to be expected, but it’s drawn out with so many reaction shots that it seems even the filmmakers knew how unfunny it was and needed to show us how to react several times for the joke to sink in.
Sadly, this was representative of large portions of the movie. Many of The Interview’s scenes are more awkward and embarrassing than funny, and it drags in the 2nd act for what seemed like way too long. The Interview is 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.
One thing that you can take or leave with Rogen-Franco movies are the over-the-top James Franco performances. In The Interview, Franco manages to hit the bullseye more often than not and it’s actually the now typical “sensible lost in an insensible world” role played by Seth Rogen that is the more grating on this occasion – 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 one minute 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 in the middle, 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 film.
Overall, the mask of controversy and discussion surrounding The Interview will likely be the saving grace for this picture financially, as it fails in most other ways of maintaining engagement throughout. You will laugh, but it will also feel like you’ve been watching for way too long.