Jan 12, 2015

[Movies] The Interview (2014)

Would I have watched this movie had it not become a headline news story? I honestly don't know at this point. I can take James Franco in small doses, but I don't actively seek out his movies. My partner Tobie finds Seth Rogen adorable (and to be fair, he is) and he tends to collect Seth Rogen movies on the side. So I guess it was bound to happen.

But The Interview is a movie with such an over-the-top concept, it's easy to dismiss it as little more than a gimmick of sorts. It's the kind of low-brow humor that helped shows like South Park become popular, although personally it's never been something that I've been all that into.

But through an unusual accident of circumstance, this movie suddenly became the focal point for a global discussion about censorship and free speech. The decision to pull the movie's release in response to threats from hackers was a controversial move and one that had a lot of folks reacting negatively to. And thus the movie has become something for all of us to see at least once, if only to see what the fuss was all about.

Synopsis: The Interview is a 2014 comedy movie directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Despite the initial decision to cancel its theatrical release, the movie was eventually released online on December 23 and even had limited screenings on Christmas Day.

Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) is the producer for Dave Skylark's (James Franco) tabloid talk show Skylark Tonight. At a party celebrating the 1000th episode of the show, Aaron bumps into an old colleague and the two compare notes about their jobs. But to Aaron's disappointment his work on the show is dismissed as mere entertainment in comparison to real journalism work on shows like 60 Minutes. Aaron then becomes determined to change the tone of the show to be more serious so they can make a more meaningful impact on the world.

One thing leads to another and it's discovered that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) is actually a big fan of the show, as he's generally into US pop culture. And thus they work out a deal where Dave is to travel to North Korea for an exclusive interview with the world leader. But as news of this breaks, the CIA approach Skylark and Rapoport in order to ask them to attempt to assassinate Kim Jong-un during the interview.

Given this is yet another Seth Rogen-James Franco collaboration, you know the sort of frat boy level humor that you're going to experience here. Thus there's always going to be a scene involving generous debauchery, recreational drug use and a lot of really crass jokes. And this is neither here nor there - it's just part of their distinct brand of comedy that has generated its own fan base. I'm not entirely against it, but I'm not exactly a 100% fan of it all either.

The whole premise behind the movie is pretty absurd and I have to admit that Franco does a great job being the sort of over the top personality that just might do what he does in this movie. The very qualities that I find annoying in him worked perfectly in bringing his Skylark character to life. And him getting paired off with Park's version of Kim Jong-un. It wasn't necessarily an accurate portrayal (based on available information in the media), however it was an appropriately absurd one that works well for the movie.

Despite the crude nature of the humor in most of the movie, I have to admit that I laughed at quite a few bits. Rogen and Franco are obviously highly comfortable with one another and their on-screen chemistry as "bros" really comes across. And as ridiculous as some of the situations are (especially the one involving the drone delivery), on the whole it still works.

Of course the movie depicts an assault on North Korea on a number of levels and I can see why the North Koreans would object to this movie. Given how they are said to practically worship their great leader as a deity figure, this movie is a lot like dragging one's religious icon through the mud and desecrating the remains in any number of ways.

The Interview is an okay comedy but isn't exactly groundbreaking. Considering this movie became the center of so much controversy and even got censored to some extent, it's really just a decent movie that got quite the publicity boost thanks to a group of hackers. So the movie gets 4 crazy secret agent tools provided to Aaron and Dave by the CIA out of a possible 5.


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