- Movie Rating -

The Interview (2014)

| January 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

It wasn’t worth it.

After all the news, the threats, the controversy, the hacks, the delays, the most talked about film of the 2014 turns out to be nothing more than a weak, third-rate man-child comedy that isn’t funny enough to fill a three minute sketch on Saturday Night Live. To think of what could have been done with such a timely issue, a movie that got under the skin of the world’s daffiest dictator, a man who called the movie an act of war and threatened serious consequences. It could have been great; it could have equaled something as brilliant as The Great Dictator. Instead, The Interview uses its satirical tool with the force and courage of a bowl of watered-down applesauce.

The Interview, it turns out, is a good looking movie with a story so predictable that you can deduce it from the movie’s poster. We meet two low-functioning journalists, Aaron Rappaport (Seth Rogan) and his doofus best friend Dave Skylark (James Franco) who work for a TMZ-style tabloid show called “Skylark Tonight”. While celebrating their 1000th episode, they are surprised to learn that one of their frequent viewers is none other than North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (Randall Park). Aaron suggests the simple but laughable idea of securing an interview, and much to his surprise the infamous dictator takes him up on the offer. This attracts the attention of the CIA which then orders Aaron to turn the interview into an assassination – wackiness ensues.

What follows is nothing special. It’s the basic formula of every man-child comedy of the last 10 years, everything from The Pineapple Express to Neighbors to The Watch to The Wedding Crashers to The Internship to 21 Jump Street to Superbad to Let’s Be Cops and on and on. There are jokes involving sex, drugs, nudity, rectal probes, bodily fluids and overdoses of aren’t-we-clever chatterbox pop culture references, but the movie misses the boat in really getting to the core insanity of the idea of a dictatorship. You expect that a movie like this would have time for some great East/West comic moments, but is spends an inordinate amount of time going nowhere in particular.

What can be said about the movie is that it looks great. The outdoor shots are lush and colorful, while the indoor shots are beautifully shot in the same way as a James Bond picture. Some real care went into photographing this movie. You could only wish that the same precision and care had gone into the screenplay. The opportunities given to this premise is there, but Seth Rogan and his co-writers Evan Goldberg and Dan Sterling limit themselves that to what is perceived to entertain a core audience of teenage boys. Their perception is that this tasty situation is best ironed out when given to a pair of overgrown adolescents whose mental capacity never left middle school. Example: Rogan flatters himself on the notion that his own doughy form would become the ultimate sexual fantasy of a pretty Korean military official (Diana Bang) who can’t keep her hands off him.

Meanwhile Franco is given the less flattering role of a moderately touching bromance with Kim Jong-Un himself. His massive discovery is the dictator’s preoccupation: Partying and naked girls. Bet you didn’t see that one coming. But, unlike Rogan, Franco at least shows pangs of a performance. There are tiny moments here and there that show what a good (not to mention underrated) dramatic actor he can be, particularly in a moment when he realizes too late what the Kim Jong-Un is really up to. It’s a good moment, but blink and you miss it.

All through the movie, I kept thinking of what a glorious opportunity was being wasted. Think of great satirical comedies like Spies Like Us or Dr. Strangelove. Remember that moment in The Great Dictator when Chaplin, dressed as Hitler, did a ballet dance with a balloon of the world. Think of the massive impact of this great medium of film and what it can do, what it can say, and how far it can reach. Think of the images, the ideas both subjective and objective that it can present and give a perspective on what insanity a dictatorship can be. Instead we have a movie that falls back on “He’s motherf***ing peanut butter and jealous!” What a waste.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2014) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy, Recent