A fun movie if you don't expect it to be as subversive as North Korea does.
Director: Evan Goldberg (This is the End), Seth Rogen (This is the End)
Screenplay: Dan Sterling
Cast: James Franco (Palo Alto), Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express)
Runtime: 112 min.
by John DeSando
The hype surrounding Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's The Interview is worldwide as North Korea apparently hacked Sony Picture’s email and threatened terrorism if the film were shown. After major theater chains refused to show it, some small independents did and so far the only reaction is in the foul-mouthed script full of scatological metaphors and USA chauvinism.
Despite its potty orientation (Rogen’s imprint), The Interview is fun to watch as it depicts talk show host Dave Skylark ( a hammy James Franco) and producer Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen) going to North Korea to interview President Kim Jong-un (Randall Park). In one of Dave’s segments from his show, Rob Lowe reveals he’s bald and in another Eminem admits to being gay. Silly stuff but fun.
In the course of the boys’ preparations to interview the president, the CIA enjoins the clueless duo to "take out" Kim. One of the more humorous moments is when they confuse the plan with taking the leader out for dinner. Compared with the scene in which the president soils his britches, that one is high brow.
In addition to the usual bathroom jokes and miscommunications that generate base laughs, sometimes witty takes on the deceptions of both sides can be serious issues such as nuclear missiles—the fact that the US has many more warheads than N Korea. As well, there's a running joke about the N Koreans being poor at using and appreciating irony. Physical jokes abound such as Dave trying to make love to Sook (Diana Bang) while holding aloft one hand with a lethal strip applied to his palm meant for the Supreme Leader.
It's typical Rogen low humor, not always dumb or dumber but rather witty at times when it is not pandering to collegiate comic anarchy. Kim, as played engagingly by Park, has a duplicitous charm seemingly natural and disarming for potential assassin Dave until he discovers the food displayed at the super market is fake just as Kim is.
Although Seth Rogen has written some low-brow comedies such as Superbad, The Interview delivers a more serious satire just as Pineapple Express did. When The Interview briefly suggests America is no better than North Korea, Rogen is getting closer to meaningful humor. Meanwhile, it’s still a mediocre comedy with touches of a social conscience. Not bad for slackers.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com