‘The Interview’ Review: Harmless But Hilarious

'The Interview'

Movie Rating:

3.5

It’s strange to watch ‘The Interview’ as though it’s some sort of massively important monument in the history of free speech. That’s what the film has become lately, yet it puts you in the wrong mindset to appreciate a movie that’s more concerned with fart and dick jokes than breaking any barriers through satire.

I’m sure that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg feel the same way. They made something purely intended to be hilarious that accidentally became important. Never forget that order of intent and please appreciate the poo jokes at least as much as the freedom.

As anyone who has seen a Seth Rogen movie before likely could have guessed, ‘The Interview’ is not some sort of vicious political satire too searing for theater screens. It’s not ‘The Great Dictator’. It’s not ‘Dr. Strangelove’. It’s not even ‘Team America’. Rogen and his writing/producing/directing/life partner Goldberg have made something closer to Woody Allen’s ‘Bananas’. The story plays around with a real and dangerous world, but only for the sake of goofy humor.

Sure, some of the laughs sting, and clearly the duo knew they were courting controversy with their project. However, these guys aren’t trying to make a grand statement or piss off a political leader regardless of how things ultimately worked out. They just like R-rated comedy that skirts around various genres and taboos on the way to a Grade-A gross-out gag. Nothing wrong with that. The boys are good at it and even pretty talented and adventurous in their own goofball way. One day, they’ll likely make something daring and dangerous. ‘The Interview’ just isn’t that movie, regardless of what you may have heard.

The plot, as has been recounted endlessly, involves James Franco’s vapid celebrity interviewer getting invited to interview Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) in North Korea. The most biting satirical target in the whole flick is the absurdity of celebrity news journalism. Lovable moron Franco’s secret-homosexuality chat with Eminem or his bald-reveal exclusive with Rob Lowe prove to get far more media attention than impending attacks against America from North Korea.

It turns out that Kim loves Franco’s show, and invites him (along with his producer played by Rogen) to fly over for an exclusive chit-chat. Shortly after hearing this news, the CIA sends out Lizzy Caplan to recruit idiots Rogen and Franco to kill the leader of North Korea. After a few montages of them fucking up assassination training exercises, they head over to the troubled country. Franco soon spends some private time with Kim. After bonding over margaritas, tank warfare and Katy Perry, he starts to question whether or not that whole assassination thing is a good idea.

Essentially, it’s a romp – one that leans heavily on gags involving characters shoving military hardware up buttholes, and evil dictators weeping at soft pop ballads. The good news is that most of those gags are pretty damn inspired. Franco and Rogen’s dumbbell/smartypants comedy team is tried and true, and delivers the goods once more. Park’s King Jong-un with a heart of gold is an absolute delight, and Lizzy Caplan knows her way around deadpan comedy. (See ‘Party Down’ for more.)

As filmmakers, Rogen and Goldberg are getting better at what they do: slickly mimicking Hollywood genre filmmaking, delivering harsh violence for goofy laughs, and balancing out their improve-fests with crafted filmmaking. ‘The Interview’ is damn entertaining and damn funny. Sure, jokes fall flat, the haggard narrative can sag a bit while racing to the punchlines, and it’s a bit predictable for anyone with a brain and a wealth of shock comedies under their belt. But these inconsistencies and flaws are almost part of the Rogen/Goldberg shaggy dog style and hardly kill the movie.

The only thing that makes ‘The Interview’ hard to take is the weight of expectation. This movie has become far too culturally important for the simple, filthy pleasures it actually provides. The best approach is to try and shove all that from your mind and simply view the movie as Rogen and Goldberg originally intended: a dirty, silly, stupid/smart follow-up to ‘This Is the End’. That’s all it is and all it needs to be. If you don’t like what they do, you won’t like the movie. Thankfully, many do, and even better, those folks can actually see it now. Things were dicey for a while there, just in case you didn’t notice.

What Did You Think of 'The Interview'?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

19 comments

  1. William Henley

    I found it pretty boring. It wasn’t bad, just way over-hyped. I would give it about 2 stars.I’ve never cared for Seth Rogan anyways, though. He is not Seth McFarland, Seth Green, or Trey Parker / Matt Stone. I don’t care for him, and this movie didn’t do anything for me.

    Now I went in knowing who Seth Rogan was, and so I wasn’t expecting Team America or A Million Ways To Die In The West or Ted or anything, I was expecting a Seth Rogan film. And that is what I got. Uninspired, unfunny, and completely boring.

    • Phil Brown

      Yeah, the hype was a problem and I knew it would be. I like Rogen though, so I was on board. If you hate him, why even watch the movie? You know what you’re going to get.

      • Chris B

        I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people say “I can’t stand Seth Rogen” or some variation of that statement. Makes me wonder how he’s so popular if everyone loathes him so much. Personally I think he’s funny and a great writer,
        I thought This Is The End was a total blast, look forward to checking out The Interview soon…

      • William Henley

        I watched it to pretty much give a finger to North Korea. I don’t hate Seth Rogen – I just don’t care for him. I don’t think he’s funny. Of course, the poll would be pretty skewed if it was voted on only by people who like Rogen.

        • Chris B

          Yeah, I’ve heard that a lot of people in the states have watched it to simply be patriotic and not neccessarily because they wanted to see the movie that bad. It’s funny how something written by two Canadians turns out to be an American Rallying point. It kind of reminds me of how the seeds of the American Revolution were actually sowed in Canda over a tax dispute with the British!

          I didn’t mean to imply you hated Rogen, I just meant I’ve heard way more people state that they don’t think he’s funny as opposed to people who do. Maybe a lot of people don’t want to admit their fans because he’s so popular? Little bit of hipster-douchbaggery at play perhaps? (Once again not to imply you yourself are a hipster-douchebag). Whew…the internet is a treacherous place for conversing. I don’t think everything he’s done is gold though. Neighbors was kind of weak, and Pineapple express was only half-decent. The trailer for The Interview made me laugh though, James Franco’s line about “fucking more women than Ellen Degenres” was hilarious, I figure the movie is worth my time.

          • William Henley

            These guys just seem like maybe they would be better in something that someone else wrote. I mean, there was nothing in this movie that made me cringe or groan or anything like that. Its like when you go back and watch the first season of South Park or early seasons of Simpsons or Family Guy – you are like “I find the new stuff funny, and I know I found this funny when it came out, but now I am just bored by it”. This felt like a movie I would have smiled and laughed at like 10 or 15 years ago.

            However, if you did something like have Trey Parker / Matt Stone write a script, Seth McFarland and Seth Green produce / direct / consult it, and star Rogen and Franco, with a cameo by Gabriel Inglasius, and have Larry The Cable Guy do the voice of a CG character, we may have comedy gold here.

  2. It’s on par with the last Rogen/Franco/Goldberg team-up in THIS IS THE END. In fact, I liked it a bit more than that one – THIS IS THE END got tired after the first 45 minutes or so… THE INTERVIEW manages to entertain throughout. It’s big and dumb, but entertaining.

    • DAN13L

      You are the first person I agree with when it comes to This Is The END. That movie was boring. I didn’t care too much for this movie when the trailer came out but watched it because of the hype. I actually liked this movie.

      • Clemery

        Was totally unimpressed with both This Is The End and The Interview. Rogen and co need to either grow up or get laid (or both), as this juvenile dick-and-bum joke routine was wearing thin in the 90’s, before anyone had even heard of Seth Rogen.

  3. Timcharger

    The hacking stuff, the corporate terrorism and blackmail, the irrational fears of terrorism in a local theater at Nowhere, USA, the wrong decision of weighing liability versus freedom of speech…
    …all that sh*t was stupid. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    But as Americans we are silly to think we are beyond having the same reaction North Koreans had about the film. If North Korea made a film (if they made films; I don’t know; do they?) about the assassination of our head of state, many of us would have the same reaction. Even if it is satire.

    (Except for those who believe our President was born in Kenya and is Muslim, they would petition for the domestic release of this hypothetical North Korean film.)

    —–

    Rogen should have done the usual switch-a-roo most of these films do. The movie should have been set in “East Kolea” to assassinate dictator “Jim Kong-loon.”

    • Phil Brown

      I really doubt anyone would care if North Korea made a comedy about killing the president of the United States. Wasn’t there a fake doc made about killing George Dubya during his reign of idiocy that was released to a resounding lack of controversy?

      • Timcharger

        Oh we Americans make a real big deal about stupid symbolic gestures (satire films fit in that category, yes?)

        Take burning the American flag.

        We actually have Representatives working on a Constitutional Amendment to outlaw that symbolic gesture. Any time a political organization wants to raise a few thousand dollars, they show images of foreigners burning the American flag.

        Oh the average American won’t give a f*ck about a foreign satire film (it would have subtitles and we don’t read). But the American political machine would care, and raise a stink about how if we don’t bomb and invade that country immediately, we would appear weak…

  4. It is amusing yet pathetic people actually think the people behind the “hacking” were the North Korean government. I guess though I can’t expect much from the average American who will eat up every single piece of blatant propaganda their government and agencies feed them.

    FWIW, a cyber security firm (that actually has zero agenda to try and blame another country’s government within 3 seconds of the incident unlike the FBI/U.S government who also offered zero proof) has said the “hacking” was done by a disgruntled former Sony employee. If the hacking is actually legit (I am of the opinion it was all a marketing stint) then that seems far more likely than blaming North Korea.

    Then again, that is just crazy talk. The FBI and government wouldn’t lie about this since they never do, correct? All those scandals of the last few year and blatant lies that have been uncovered and ADMITTED TO AND PROVEN apparently got flushed out of history.

    USA! USA!

    • Timcharger

      The North Korean hacking and the disgruntled Sony employee sabotage ISN’T mutually exclusive.

      Hackers (or any other criminal) will use the exploits of other hackers to their advantage.

      Releasing the embarrassing e-mails of Sony management:
      motive likely from disgruntled Sony IT employee.

      Coercion to stop distribution of film:
      motive likely from North Korea.

      It is amusing yet pathetic how almost every event can be conjured up into a government cover-up and conspiracy.

      Let’s remember this important detail. What’s to gain for the government? Gain for the corporate powers? Gain for the military industry? Gain for political power through public fear?

      That’s right, there’s no oil in North Korea. So don’t worry. No use to start a war there. We only don’t like dictators with oil (that don’t sell that oil to us).

      • William Henley

        Oh Really? I thought we didn’t like anyone who wasn’t US. Actually, I thought we didn’t like anyone who does not have the same political / religious / enviornmental views as we do (so like the other half of the country).

        We only go to war with people over oil. Or people who bomb us first. Let the rest of the world handle their own problems, unless it affects our oil or they attack us first. Allies? What are those?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.