Nothing says Christmas like Seth Rogen and James Franco trying to kill an Asian dictator.
“The Interview” is the second film to be directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, with a script by the duo and Dan Sterling. In case you have been as secluded from the outside world as a citizen of North Korea for the past seven months, the film follows an American talk show host and his producer (James Franco and Rogen) who are recruited to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Randall Park).
Comedy is at its best when it takes risk. And making a film about killing the real-life leader of a country is certainly a risky move by Rogen and Goldberg. And is “The Interview” worth all the extra attention and scrutiny that it has received the past few months? No, not at all. But it is still a pretty funny movie.
I’m a huge Seth Rogen fan and I believe “Pineapple Express” and “This Is the End”, his two previous collaborations with Franco, rank among the greatest comedies of all-time. “The Interview” is not as laugh-out-loud as those two, or Rogen’s other works for that matter, but the screenplay has enough constant chuckles that keep the film flowing when the concept begins to stretch thin.
“The Interview” is essentially a buddy film so chemistry is key, and Franco and Rogen have some of the best in the business. Their give-and-take is second to none and Rogen knows how to deliver his own dialogue.
For some reason, some people hate James Franco. Here he plays a character that is in love with himself and strives to earn other people’s approval. Did Franco use his real-life experiences to tap into his character? I’m not to say, but either way, it’s a fun performance.
The real show stealer is Randall Park, who plays Kim. A huge fanboy of Franco’s show, Park plays Kim as sheepish while at the same time angry. It is a nuanced performance that lends some humanity to Kim and makes the audience question if the assassination is the right thing to do.
The film’s finale is by and far its best part. We get to see the interview with Kim which is entertaining and actually a bit insightful, but also features some fantastic Tarantino-like action sequences. Rogen and Goldberg have some well-staged scenes, partnered with cinematographer Brandon Trost, and the action really comes out of nowhere and grabs your attention.
The film is not perfect. Like I said, the laughs are not as roaring or often as Rogen’s other films, or even as other 2014 comedies including Rogen’s “Neighbors”. There are still plenty of chuckle moments, and a few one-liners that made my sides hurt, but it isn’t crazy.
The film isn’t as much of a biting satire that it could have been, or as much as I think the filmmakers intended. There are a few nuggets of insight and the film almost raises a few points on how America may not actually be any better than North Korea, but then Rogen throws in a butt joke or doesn’t carry the line far enough.
“The Interview” is disappointing in that it isn’t worth getting nuked over, but it still is a fun movie with a few surprises. Rogen is impossible not to love, Randall Park gives a scene-stealing performance, and the look of the film is engaging. If you don’t run out and see the film will you miss out on a historic event, or lose your right to call yourself an American? No, but like an actual celebrity interview there are enough entertaining and interesting moments to keep your interest if you do.
Critics Rating: 6/10