The Interview (2014): An exclusive review by Jeff Turner
A Review by: Jeff Turner
Dir: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Written by: Dan Sterling, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg.
Produced by: Colombia Pictures, LStar Capital, Point Grey Pictures.
Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Randall Park, Lizzy Caplan, Diana Bang, Timothy Simons.
So, the most controversial film of 2014. The reputation of THE INTERVIEW unfortunately precedes it. Should you be able to pass the film’s considerable controversy, and approach THE INTERVIEW as a Seth Rogen movie, it happens to be one of his funnier ones. The funniest comedy of the year? In any other year, probably not. In a year like this (a weak year for comedies to be certain), possibly.
Dave Skylark (James Franco) is the host of a celebrity talk show called Skylark Tonight. This is a potshot at our celebrity obsessed culture the like of which you’d have also seen in Rogen’s previous directoral effort, THIS IS THE END. He gets an opportunity to be involved in legitimate journalism when his producer, Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen) gets called by Kim-Jonh Un asking for an interview by Skylark. The CIA intervenes, asking if Skylark and Rapaport can assassinate Un by poisoning him with a strip of Ricin.
The movie is funny starting out, with its obvious targets being shows like Extra and networks like TMZ, but THE INTERVIEW doesn’t really hit its stride until Skylark and Rapaport go to North Korea. The way the script by Dan Sterling humanizes Kim-Jong Un while still mercilessly mocking him is inventive, memorable, and hilarious. Randall Park by far gives the best performance in the movie as the titular dictator.
The 2nd best turn is from Diana Bang as one of ol’ Kimmy’s subordinates. Her comic timing is sharp, and with any luck this film’s publicity will spotlight her effective performance. THE INTERVIEW in general offers some of the best roles for Asians that the American movie industry has produced in recent memory. The actors playing the North Koreans here, sometimes even eclipse Rogen and Franco.
Which is not to say Rogen and Franco are unfunny. The two have the same titular chemistry moviegoers have seen in countless of their collaborations (including PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, FREAKS AND GEEKS, and THIS IS THE END). Rogen is surprisingly rather restrained here, allowing himself to be the comic foil for the first time. Franco on the other hand, is out of control. He plays Skylark as a sort of crazed cartoon character. If you don’t like Seth Rogen, you might like this movie, but if you don’t like James Franco, you might as well skip this.
THE INTERVIEW is a funnier Seth Rogen comedy than NEIGHBORS. That’s really the best many members of the moviegoing public could have hoped for. THE INTERVIEW has a quotable script, is dumb but has enough laughs to sustain a few viewings. It’s not as bad as the critics say but not as sharp as audiences probably deserve. Nonetheless, the fact that it got released is a good thing, and worth celebrating.