'The Interview' Review: Interview with a Dictator
"They hate us because they ain't us," is the rallying cry of this year's most controversial film, The Interview. By now, the story of Sony pulling and then releasing the film after a monster hacking scandal has become a worldwide story. While not relevant to the quality of the film, this sequence of potentially precedent setting events cannot be ignored while discussing The Interview. Thankfully, Sony finally released the film in select theaters and online, which made this review a reality.
A satirical take on the "great" leader of North Korea, The Interview never strays too far from pure comedy and it relies heavily on strong performances from its three leads, with Randall Park's turn as Kim Jong Un coming as the biggest surprise of the film. The premise is simple: Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer, Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen), travel to North Korea to interview Kim Jong-un for their television show Skylark Tonight. However, they are secretly tasked by the CIA to "take him out" and free North Korea from his iron grasp. Obviously, mishaps and hilarity ensue while Rogen and Franco take the audience on a hilarious and irreverent ride.
As far as comedies go, this is arguably the best of 2014, with Neighbors being its only real competition. From the opening scene with an incredible turn from Eminem to the final scene, it is impossible to stop yourself from laughing. Much like the last Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg directed film, This Is The End, the jokes keep coming and never stop. James Franco's idiotic talk show host is so clueless that he manages to develop an awkward friendship with Kim Jong Un. Being so dense, he manages to see the softer side of the dictator, which actually leads to one of the films most interesting premises: the idea that Kim Jong-un is simply misunderstood.
Kim Jong-un is never set up as a purely evil character; his motivations are mostly due to a constant feeling of inadequacy that we, as an audience, can at least empathize with on a much smaller scale. The time the film spends with Skylark and Kim Jong-un just hanging out presents an interesting and vulnerable take on someone portrayed in the media as stoic and heartless. That isn't to say Kim Jong-un isn't the clear antagonist of the piece, but rather he is humanized by his internal conflict to live up to his late father's expectations. Granted, this is hardly a serious film, but I laud the script writers for attempting to make him a fully realized character rather than the obvious caricature.
The narrative contains a few twists and turns but is hardly a revelatory story. However, it keeps the plot moving at a nice pace with little down time. Being a Franco/Rogen film, there is plenty of gross-out and physical humor, but none of the jokes fell flat. The Interview does contain one of the most ridiculous climaxes in recent memory, replete with the most violent production room encounter you'll ever seen and an absolutely perfectly timed acoustic rendition of Katy Perry's Firework.
While perhaps not reaching the comedic heights of last year's This Is The End, The Interview manages to take a real world scenario and morph it into one of the year's funniest comedies, with great performances by all of the cast. Elevated to a cultural talking point by the recent Sony controversy and terrorist threats, The Interview made the threat of my demise palatable with it's nonstop barrage of jokes and ridiculous sequences.
Final Say: Watch It (You can get it right here)