If any film could be considered the defining movie of the year 2014, it is this film. Not so much for what the film is or what it stands for, but for where this film unintentionally stands in film history. To remind you of the infamous Sony hack that occurred due to this film would be pointless because we all already know. Besides, that’s not what this post is about. Removing all of that controversy from the equation, the truly important question is whether or not The Interview is worth watching or not. If you ask me, the answer is yes.
The Interview stars Seth Rogen as Aaron Rapaport and James Franco as Dave Skylark. Dave is the host of a popular talk show, and his best friend Aaron is the show’s producer. After celebrating a major milestone, Aaron discusses with Dave the possibility of covering more heavy topics instead of insignificant pop culture topics. So Dave convinces Aaron to enlist North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as a guest on the show. To their surprise, Kim agrees, and the two travel to North Korea to conduct and film the interview. Before leaving, the CIA contacts the two, asking them to assassinate the dictator while in North Korea.
The quality of The Interview is constantly in question as a direct result of the hype before, during, and after the film’s release. To many this is a disappointment and to just as many it’s a masterpiece. If you go into this film, it is for your own benefit to disassociate the background details from the actual film. This film is best enjoyed by looking at it as a silly comedy instead of a political centerpiece.
I say this because at the end of the day this is nothing more than a silly satirical comedy. As far as that is concerned, this film does its job and does it well.
My utmost praise of this movie is the comedic writing. This film is very funny with just the right amount of wit. North Korea as a topic is a difficult thing to make as funny as the writers make it here. Pre-viewing expectations may lead you to believe that this is going to completely stupefy the topic in favor of slapstick and toilet humor. This is only slightly accurate. What makes the movie work is that it is cleverly stupid.
It is fully aware of how ridiculous its tone and angle are, but they embrace it in just the right way. It would be easy to take the well-known facts of the tragic conditions of North Korea and add sex jokes to it. But because the film is helmed by intelligent people, the writers know better than to add juvenile humor atop the tragedy. They blend it into the topic. That way it not only makes sense, but allows for great political humor.
It doesn’t do the movie justice to claim it houses purely juvenile humor. The movie does a good job balancing the typical (yet well-timed) slapstick humor with some well though out satire. And even with some of the more juvenile jokes, they are often centered on the plot satire in a clever way.
For example, it is pointed out to Dave before leaving America that Kim Jong-un convinced his people he doesn’t have a butthole. He then asks one of the head agents of the Korean government if it’s true, and she attempts to solidify it. This is clever because while it technically is stupid, it’s mocking the agent’s dedication to the propaganda at the same time. There’s plenty of that throughout the film, especially after the first third.
What bolsters the comedy of the film most significantly is the acting. It doesn’t even have to be said that Franco and Rogen are excellent in this movie. It doesn’t even have to be said that they’re an excellent comedic duo, since they’ve worked together in the past so often. But even on their own, Franco plays one of the most loveable and humorous imbeciles in all of comedy history. Rogen plays the sarcastic and realistic straight guy, a role where he has proven himself time and time again in previous films with flying colors.
Diana Bang plays Sook Yong Park, lead propagandist of the Korean government, and is hilarious in the film especially toward the third act. Lizzy Caplan plays a CIA agent who helps the main two to carry out the mission. She has plenty of funny scenes during the film, but I wish there was a tad more of her. Lastly, a performance that should never go overlooked is Randall Park as the dictator himself. With a role as difficult and intimidating as Kim Jong-un, he aces the performance. There’s no mistaking it, he becomes Kim. On top of that, he’s a riot.
The film’s soundtrack is pretty much all popular pop tunes (namely Katy Perry’s “Firework”) with your occasional Korean-style music. Special effects are actually really good when it comes to explosions and gunfire. The set pieces are super realistic. It’s amazing how they could pull off the look of North Korea by filming in Vancouver. And as to be expected, production values such as camerawork are of high quality.
The Interview is a fantastic comedic ride from start to finish… depending on your expectations. If you are interested in seeing the film, it’s best to detach your expectations with the hype and controversy. When viewed as a simple comedy, it’s hard to be disappointed. I recommend this film to any fan of Point Grey films (like This Is The End and Neighbors). And any fan of James Franco and Seth Rogen will get exactly what they want and more from this movie.
It may be a massive disappointment to a good number of people, but I could never deny the amount of fun and laughs this movie has given me. After all, “Haters Are gonna hate, and Ainters are gonna ain’t!”
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I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!