I don’t know if there has been a movie that has received this much attention by the media in a long time. It is well-known that Sony recently got hacked and threatened by a terrorist organization to remove this movie from theater or else there will be grave consequences. Not long after theaters began refusing to show the film. Sony eventually pulled it from release all together, which lead to a public outcry. The United States didn’t appreciate Sony giving into the demands of a terrorist, so Sony decided to release the movie on VOD and select theaters. Usually movies that cause this kind of controversy are movies like Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom or In The Realm of the Senses, not some comedy starring Seth Rogan. In short was all the controversy necessary; absolutely not. But does that mean it is a bad movie? Short answer, No.
Dave Skylark (James Franco) is a popular televsion personality who runs a show called Skylark Tonight. It is a show where he interviews celebrities and reveal personal things about them. Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogan) is his producer and his best friend. One day the two learn that North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Un (Randall Park) is a big fan of his show. They end up scoring a personal interview with him. Not long after they receive this news the CIA come to them to go on a mission to assassinate him. Once they get to North Korea things go differently than they or the CIA expected.
To me, these are two separate movies, the first being a standard Seth Rogan comedy involving two buddies and their closer than normal relationship and the second is a movie about the assassination of Kim Jung-Un. Some choices made in the first half the movie don’t work as well as they should but once the movie gets going it feels fresh and interesting. There are many ways that the movie could have handled the “assassination” portion. I know if they created a fake dictator ruling a fake country, instead of North Korea, would have created the same effect. The fact they are making a statement about the hell that goes on there is pretty ballsy of them and I respect the movie for doing that.
Once the main characters reach North Korea the movie becomes exactly what you would have expected from it. During this part of the movie we really get a sympathetic look at Kim Jung-Un, who is played with great sincerity by Randall Park. They humanize a man that we all perceived to be a monster. Sure, in the end, he is still an evil dictator but the movie shows a much deeper and tortured side to him. The movie doesn’t just make a commentary on North Korea, it also says something about America today and the interest we have in celebrity life rather than actual “news”. It’s a satire to its core but it combines what Seth Rogan does well with its harsh political commentary.
I have a lot of problems with James Franco’s performance as Dave Skylark. For a man with an Oscar nomination under his belt, he isn’t able to bring life to his character. Lately his movie choices have been a little odd, focusing in directing and acting in multiple movies in a single year. After a while you can see the fatigue with his performances. He does have a lot of good interactions with Seth Rogan and Randall Park but nothing to make him interesting.
The beginning of the movie I have the most trouble with. Early on I believed that the movie will be a complete mess. Seth Rogan has developed this sense of humor that has branched out for many years and has become mainstream now. If there isn’t a drugs, gross out scenes, or male friends that appear to be way to “close” to each other. This is all that the first part of the story is. Like 22 Jump Street and Neighbors, this kind of comedy doesn’t appeal to me. They abandon this template and go for something a little different. I like that transition and wish that would have done that throughout the entire movie.
The Interview is rather dumb comedy that manages to go for something new. It achieves a lot with their insane premise but doesn’t quite live up to its potential.