Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Interview

I don’t really see what all the fuss was about…

“The Interview” stars James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzie Caplan and Randall Park. It’s directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and I have the feeling this is certainly not the first time you’ve heard about it. If you haven’t though, the film follows James Franco as Dave Skylark, a celebrity talk show host, and his producer Alan Rapaport, played by Seth Rogen. They get the opportunity of interviewing Kim Jong-Un, the supreme leader of North Korea. Things get complicated when the CIA approaches them with the request of using the opportunity to kill the dictator.

The film attracted an enormous amount of controversy after North Korea declared that should it be screened for audiences, they would consider this an act of warfare. Later, during the Sony hack scandal, this movie was given as the reason behind the attack. So is this movie a work of bravery, shamelessly calling out the injustices committed by the mad dictator of a poor country? Well… a little bit maybe?

Most of all it is a Rogen/Goldberg comedy. They’re usually funny, rarely packed with meaning, this one definitely more so than “Pineapple Express” or “This is the end”. And, I have to say, it doesn’t do too bad considering how touchy the topic is. What remarks it has about politics, it shares them pretty evenly between the terrible dictatorship and the hubris of the CIA trying to assassinate its leader. The actual interview from the title does a pretty good job here at seeing the bigger picture.

Nevertheless, this is a comedy in the first place, the satire comes later. And as a comedy, this is one of the funnier ones I’ve seen recently. Rogen and especially Franco play clowns, but they are good at it, and it works way more often than it doesn’t. Their chemistry is established and they do not stray too far from familiar territory. There’s drug use, dick jokes, everything you would expect from a movie starring these two. The movie also shows us our characters actually having a good time, without trying to make a joke out of it, which I find important in a good comedy, because it makes us like the characters without dropping the mood. There is a slower section in the middle where the two main characters are split up. At this point I thought that the film might have needed another side-character to keep the jokes running.

The movie also has a surprisingly good villain in Randall Park’s Kim Jong-Un, a very charismatic turn and well done, because playing a parody of a real life dictator could easily go very wrong very fast. It doesn’t however and Park and Franco play off each other with an easy chemistry.

All in all, I was surprised at how much fun I had with this film. It’s not “The Great Dictator”, but the film treats its subject with as much respect as you can expect from a comedy and it delivers in spades when it comes to the jokes, which, let’s be honest, is all that really matters.

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