Movie Review: The Interview
by Jason Koenigsberg
After all the headlines, all the controversy, all the media hype, The Interview was just plain stupid offering no deep satire. As we all know stupid when done right can be very rewarding and hilarious by itself (Airplane remains a comedy classic) however I can honestly say I laughed out loud only once and chuckled a few times during the first act and that was it.
The plot of The Interview is exactly what the news has reported. James Franco plays a famous TMZ style tabloid talk show host, Seth Rogen is his producer and friend. Their program is ridiculed by their peers for being such a low-end news show Rogen is offered a chance to be legitimate and join the staff of 60 Minutes. Regardless their show gets good ratings and is enjoyed by Kim Jong-Un. An arrangement is made to have Franco go to North Korea and get one of the most exclusive interviews a journalist can have, the CIA finds out and tries to have Franco and Rogen assassinate Kim Jung-Un, hilarity ensues. Well, minus the hilarity.
Rogen is once again playing the insecure best friend and spends a lot of the film in moral conflict over if assassinating Kim Jung-Un is the right thing to do. James Franco is once again playing the good-looking dumb guy, a part he has excelled in ever since his time on Freaks and Geeks. A lot of things in this movie go over his head, however he does play his part well and provided me with the one moment I really laughed (“I am going to do something with my hand!”).
Particularly admirable in The Interview is the always superb Lizzy Caplan. She shines as the beautiful CIA operative that trains them to “take out” Kim Jong-Un. It is a huge catastrophe that her talent is wasted and she is given nothing to do, but look pretty (both with and without glasses), show some cleavage, stand in an office and have reaction shots to the numbskull antics of Rogen and Franco as she watches them on a monitor, another sad story of a talented actress given a great part in a big movie with nothing to do. I guess we will have to wait until next years Masters of Sex on Showtime to see her display her acting talent appropriately.
The biggest misfire about The Interview was not that it was not funny but that it had nothing of any importance to say. This was a missed opportunity at some great satire. If the guys from Monty Python had this script we could have gotten into some real smart social commentary about American capitalism versus North Korean Socialism. Even Sacha Baron Cohen tackled this topic with more wit and intelligence in 2012’s The Dictator, which also had plenty of gross out laughs. I guess Rogen and Franco’s stoner sense of humor is just more about guys yelling and being stupid losing things in unique situations than taking it to the next level and being clever and topical.
As I mentioned with The Dictator the one thing The Interview has in common with that film is its raunchy sense of humor, but I even feel that this film the gross parts felt mild. It was not even raunchy or stupid enough to be enjoyed on that sophomoric level alone. I was left with nothing to do but shrug my shoulders when it was over and wish that I had laughed more.
One final note, I watched this on Youtube in the company of a few friends. I am trying to be objective because there were times when others laughed during the movie and I did not (and vice versa). I do wish I had the ability to see it in a theater with a larger group of people. Comedy and Horror are the two genres that are best enjoyed on the big screen in a packed audience, shame on Sony for making that difficult for the masses with The Interview. This was another case of the previews showcasing a lot of the best moments of the film, ruining a lot of the jokes. I still think I would have had the same lackluster reaction to the picture but I feel all movies are usually better experienced in the theater and I hope that they continue to be the primary format of motion pictures and not replaced by instant streaming or Video On-Demand due to consumer laziness.