The Interview (2014)
North Korea calls new Seth Rogen film, The Interview, an 'act of war'
Directors: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Writers: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Dan Sterling
Cast: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Lizzy Caplan, Randall Park, Diana Bang, Timothy Simons, Reese Alexander, James Yi, Paul Bae, Geoff Gustafson, Dominique Lalonde, Anesha Bailey, Anders Holm, Charles Rahi Chun, Don Chow
Synopsis: Dave Skylark and producer Aaron Rapoport run the celebrity tabloid show "Skylark Tonight." When they land an interview with a surprise fan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, they are recruited by the CIA to turn their trip to Pyongyang into an assassination mission.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for pervasive language, crude and sexual humor, nudity, some drug use and bloody violence
Did North Korea Hack Sony Pictures?
7.9 / 10
- Jokes were funny
- Seth Rogen and James Franco were great, and continued to have great chemistry together; working well off each other to create some fairly comedic moments.
- The movie ran at a nice pace
- Does a fairly decent job around the beginning satirizing both North Korean culture and American media
- Weak forgettable script
- Violence and blood around the climax was unnecessary and excessive
- The close up cinematography scene depicting a character's demise seemed a bit unnecessary and way too extreme.
Arguably the most controversial film in cinematic history is finally here...oh boy...
Throughout my years of watching movies, I've never seen a film generate as much real life political controversy as "The Interview" has done. One moment, we hear on the news how North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un, considered the movie an act of war; several months prior to the movie's release. About a month ago, Sony gets hacked by some anonymous group calling themselves the "Guardians of Peace" aka GOP (for short), with some circumstantial evidence pointing to North Korea.
Private e-mails get leaked; most of their personal information is exposed. Theaters are being threatened by these hackers, with implied notions of a 9/11 style of attack on any theaters screening "The Interview." Of course, this causes Sony to panic, where we hear about them cancelling the premiere for "The Interview" on Christmas day. President Barrack O'Bama makes a speech on how we shouldn't give into terrorist's demands.
And finally, it seems "The Interview" is back on track. Albeit a limited release, but it's back to it's Christmas day premiere. Wow, I don't think I've ever seen a movie generate so much controversy that even our own damn President had to talk about it to the media. All I can say is that if this was a more sophisticated and witty satire, then "The Interview" would probably dominate next year's Oscars.
However, it's not even close to being as witty as the topic it's satirizing. If you can look past the obvious controversial aspects of the movie itself, "The Interview" is really nothing more than your average James Franco and Seth Rogen "d**k joke" movie. Heck, this film probably has more in common with their previous outing, "Pineapple Express", than anything else. If you loved that movie, then chances are you'll probably like this one too because it has almost the exact same style of humor.
Seth Rogen playing the straight man of the duo, while James Franco plays the goofy idiot that causes all sorts of trouble. Like "Pineapple Express", Seth Rogen and James Franco continue to display a lot of great chemistry together, as they make an excellent comedy duo. It's almost a shame these two don't make movies more together.
In this controversial comedy, Seth Rogen (Aaron Rapaport) plays a producer for this popular tabloid news show, while James Franco plays the show's lovable host named Dave Skylark. While most news programming like "Sixty Minutes" and etc show ground breaking news like North Korea possibly being a threat to the United States, Dave's show goes over stuff like Eminem admitting he's a homosexual. Wow, who knew he was gay?
However, through a series of events, Dave and Aaron find out that Kim Jong-Un is a huge fan of their show; hence Dave comes up with the idea to interview him. Needless to say, Kim accepts the invitation as long as it takes place in North Korea, and Dave is only allowed to ask questions that the dictator himself wrote.
Our heroes accept these terms begrudgingly, but the CIA gets a hold of them upon finding out about their trip. And if you've seen any of the trailers for this film, then you know where the story goes from there. The CIA recruits them to take out Kim Jong-Un, and like all comedies of this ilk, you know they're going to screw it up; hence it's going to lead to one big comedic action packed climax at the end.
While I'll admit "The Interview" was pretty funny for a d**k joke style comedy in ilk "Pineapple Express", the reality is it's a bit over hyped. If you stop and think about it, the story isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Sure, it tries to satirize both North Korean culture, and American media. And to some extent it works, but the problem is that the film has a tendency to go too far at times.
For instance. During the climax when Dave manages to publicly humiliate Kim Jong-Un on a live broadcast interview across the world, they not only go out of their way to make Kim look like an uber dork by that point, but they even make the guy crap his own pants while crying for Pete's sake. And, I'm not saying that as a metaphor either. I mean he literally craps his own pants while crying on live TV, as Dave sings a Katy Perry song to him. Granted, that would've been controversial enough because they already established Kim Jong-Un as being a dork.
Unlike the strong imposing figure he seems to be in real life, this movie portrays Kim Jong-Un as a man that has daddy issues because his father called him a homo for liking margaritas and Katy Perry songs. And to add more insult to injury, they show a graphic fight scene where Seth Rogen gets his fingers bitten off in a fight that seemed excessive. Granted, I know that was done for comical effect, but it seems a bit unnecessary to the story. Take in mind, I'm not sensitive to violence or blood either, as some of my favorite movies of all time had violence and blood in it. (i.e. "Pulp Fiction", "Terminator", "Rambo: First Blood" and etc.)
However, this movie seems to use the blood and violence a bit too much around the climax. To put it simply, violence and blood is okay if it helps depict the graphic nature of a situation, but it's a lot like adding seasoning to a meal your preparing. If you add too much of it, then it overpowers the dish. That's why it's important to only add the right amount of it to compliment the themes of your movie. It's what separates a good movie like "Reservoir Dogs" from something like "Pulp Fiction." "Reservoir Dogs" was a good movie, but the violence was needlessly excessive to where it almost overpowered it's strong story arc. Whereas something like "Pulp Fiction", it had violence and splashes of blood flying around, but it was never outside of the realm of reason; hence it complimented it's own story perfectly.
To get back to "The Interview", it was already controversial enough going into the climax, but it didn't need to add the whole biting off other peoples' fingers bit because it wasn't necessary to compliment the story other than for shock value and comedic effect; which arguably would've still been funny even without it being shown.
Of course, this leads to the epic chase scene. I should warn readers that the the next three paragraphs will contain spoilers, so please skip them if you don't want the movie ruined for yourself. If you've already seen it, or you don't care about spoilers, then please read at your own risk.
As other reviews have mentioned, Kim Jong-Un is killed around the ending. Not only do our heroes publicly humiliate Kim on live TV in front of the entire North Korean nation, and throughout the world, but they kill him in perhaps one of the most over top comedic death scenes ever portrayed in a comedy.
In fact, Seth Rogen and fellow co director, Evan Goldberg, make it a point for the audience to see Kim Jong-Un not only be made fun of in this film, but to show him dying in the most graphic and comedic way as humanly possible. During the chase scene, Seth and James' characters are running from Kim's army in a tank. Kim is naturally pissed off for his public humiliation, so he chases after them in his helicopter while firing missiles at them. Eventually, our heroes fire one back, and it starts to go into slow motion from there. Cue in the Katy Perry song playing in the background, as the missile launches towards the helicopter in slow motion. Immediately after it hits the helicopter, the camera zooms in on Kim's face. We see the plane slowly burn up around his body.
We even see parts of Kim's body being lit on fire by the flames around him. Eventually the fire cover his face, and then you see tiny little pieces of his head flying off; implying that he blew up. At that moment, the camera zooms out to give us a wide angled shot of the helicopter as a whole blowing up. Now, I'm no expert when it comes to film making, but I will say this. Wouldn't have been just as controversial and funny if say right before the missile hit the helicopter that it just showed a close up of Kim's face doing a stupid a look for a split second, and then immediately zoom out to give us a wide angled shot of the helicopter blowing up in slow motion? Wouldn't that have been just as funny? The movie still could've played the same Katy Perry song if they wanted to, but the fact that Seth and Evan wanted to be that graphic with his death proves only one thing. It's that "The Interview" was built around the gimmick that it's sole purpose was to mock everything about Kim Jong-Un.
Look, I'm not going to say that I have any love for Kim Jong-Un because I don't. if anything, I see him as one of history's biggest monsters. And if he is behind the cyber terrorist attacks that threatened to bomb theaters over screening "The Interview", then that makes him almost as big of a monster as Adolf Hitler ever was arguably. However, this movie tends to go too far. Look, I don't mind seeing movies that mock real life political figures, and it's not like this is the first time we've ever seen an evil dictator mocked on the big screen before. Any real cinema fan can attest to that.
Hell, Kim's dad was openly mocked in "Team America" not too long ago, but the funny thing is his dad was never mocked to this absurd degree. Granted, the movie is funny, which is basically what you'd want to see from any comedy. But when you think about this from objective point of view, you can see why Kim Jong-Un would be offended by this movie if you really think about it. If someone made a movie about someone you knew, and showed them being publicly humiliated in a movie like this, then wouldn't you be offended too? Or what if there was a movie like this where the plot revolved around killing Barrack O'Bama? Would we still be laughing and saying it's our right to free speech to mock our own President? Where do you draw the line between common decency and free speech?
Look, I'm against censorship as much as the next guy, but it's like Jeff Goldblum said in "Jurassic Park"; he said in his infamous words of wisdom, "Just because you can do something that it doesn't mean that you should." In this particular case, I honestly don't even think "The Interview" should've been made. Granted, I'm all for free speech and everything, but this is downright disrespectful. Even if you do hate North Koreans, we shouldn't mock them like this. I know some of my American brothers and sisters will argue saying how "If you have the right to free speech, then you have the right to be offended." Well, I hate to break it to you guys, but North Korea doesn't have the same laws that we do. "The Bill of Rights" is a great document that helped shape our way of life in America, but to Kim Jong-Un? That's nothing more than a piece of paper to him. He doesn't recognize it. Not out of disrespect for us, but mostly because that's not part of his culture. The problem with America is that we have this idealistic tendency to think everyone in the world either thinks like us, or they should think like us if they don't already. That's our problem right there.
Plus, if you were to ask yourself honestly, this film would've gone unnoticed if it had nothing to do with Kim Jong-Un.
Seriously think about it. If Kim Jong-Un was replaced by some made up fictional dictator in a fictionalized nation that's similar to North Korea, then chances are NOBODY would even be talking about this movie. That's just a fact. "The Interview" is only made popular because of it's controversial gimmick; which you can tell Seth and Evan play up quite a bit throughout this movie.
Overall though, "The Interview" is worth seeing if only to see what all the fuss is about. Would I say it's the best comedy of the year? Certainly not. However, it's funny for being a d**k joke film. As long as you don't go in with any high expectations for it, then you should be okay. Although I may not agree with the film's subject matter, I will say that it's quite funny to watch, and that's basically all you can ask for if your watching a comedy these days.
“The Interview” WILL Be In Theaters After All On Christmas Day
© 2014 Steven Daniels