Monday, January 26, 2015

Film Review: The Interview (2014)

The Interview (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...the Skylark/Jong-un segments were hilarious, some of my favorite moments in the film."

Talk show host Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) head to North Korea to interview Kim Jong-un (Randall Park)... with ulterior motives.

The Interview begins with a hilarious Skylark interview with Eminem. After some thought, Rapoport convinces Skylark to tackle bigger challenges. So, they ask North Korea for an interview with Kim Jong-un. To their surprise, the reclusive leader agrees, as long as he controls the interview. Central Intelligence catches wind of the interview and convince Skylark and Rapoport to assassinate Kim Jong-un -- they reluctantly agree. The plans shift after some humorous mishaps and a sudden change of heart. It leads to an action-packed and surprisingly violent climax and a humorous ending.

Off the bat, The Interview packs quite the narrative. It's very fun and original. In fact, I was surprised by how much story and character they packed into this film. Sure, it's not a serious or "sophisticated" comedy, but it's crafted very well. Despite the controversies, I really liked this story. The humor was a little more hit-or-miss. It's not 50-50, though, it was more like a 70-30 split for me. I laughed at 70% of the jokes and gags, and sat still during the other 30%. Although it's not 100%, I think it's more than good enough.

The comedy consists of some black humor, some raunchy gags, some slapstick, and some stereotype jokes. Offensive? I didn't think so. Although some humor may be dark, it seemed to have some heart -- it's all in good fun. The interactions between Skylark and Rapoport gives us a little of everything, while Skylark's interactions with Jong-un give us more of a "cute" brand of humor -- a different type of bromance. Regardless, I thought the Skylark/Jong-un segments were hilarious, some of my favorite moments in the film. Also, the music and editing add to the humor, as well as some of the foreshadowing and irony.

James Franco was also hit-and-miss. Franco is incredibly charismatic and he often nails it in this film, but he also overplayed it at times -- his brand of humor and dialogue can be over-the-top, like having a joke beat over your head over and over. Seth Rogen was good. Randall Park steals the show, though, I thought he was absolutely hilarious. The many cameos also work out well. The music mostly consists of popular pop songs, but the jokes and editing make them more than tolerable for those who dislike pop. Directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen craft an original and mostly enjoyable comedy. James Franco is a little overdone and one of the directors should have toned him down a bit, but, otherwise, this was a well directed and well written comedy.

Overall, The Interview is a very good movie. Depending on your taste in humor, it might be too over-the-top for some audiences. Fortunately for me, I enjoyed the vast majority of the jokes and found myself laughing out loud more than a handful of times; I also found myself enjoying the original story. James Franco is charismatic but too energetic, Seth Rogen plays it safe, and Randall Park is fantastic thanks to the performance and jokes -- the trio work well together, though. It's not on par with Pineapple Express, but it's very entertaining. If you're a fan of Rogen and Franco, this is a treat.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, nudity and some sex.

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