29th Dec2014

‘The Interview’ Review

by Ian Loring

Stars: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Randall Park, Lizzy Caplan, Diana Bang, Timothy Simons, Reese Alexander | Written by Dan Sterling | Directed by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen


The Interview will be the answer to questions in pub quizzes for years to come. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s second directorial feature is headline news all over the world and many in Hollywood have claimed that its release is a victory for our right to free speech. It is also a film which features Seth Rogen having to hide a package from the CIA in his ass. The Interview is that increasingly rare film which manages to provoke discussions in mainstream pop-culture but little, if any, of that discussion is focused on the film itself but should it be forgotten amid the controversy surrounding it, this would be a shame as The Interview is one of the funniest films of the year with its political leanings more partisan than expected.

A litmus test to decide whether you will get on board with The Interview doesn’t focus on how Randall Park’s President Kim is treated but instead on James Franco’s Dave Skylark. Skylark is a supreme idiot, a man who is happy enough interviewing Rob Lowe about the status of his hair and who cares little for politics until he realises it could be good for his career. Franco is a divisive figure but if you can tune into the supreme ham he is offering up here, you’ll come out of The Interview smiling. Going at every scene with full-tilt enthusiasm, he is a somewhat disturbing real approximation of what we get from our media today but he also grabs hold of a character arc which ends with him realising the world is a darker place than he ever really considered it to be, as well as discovering that dictators can like Katy Perry too.

Seth Rogen gets less to do here than expected, acting largely as the straight man and offering up a pleasantly different vibe from Franco. While the two exhibit their dependably good chemistry together, Rogen isn’t the focus here and in the second half of the film he gets involved in an ill-advised romantic entanglement with Diana Bang’s Sook, this relationship adding little to the film aside from length. The real relationship of the film focuses on Franco and the aforementioned Park, whose President Kim is at-turns a funny and worrying creation, a man-child who likes blowing things up and doing drugs but can also decide to take extreme action in a split-second but what sticks in the mind is the bizarre “bromance” offered up between the two and that may be the highlight of the film.

The Interview doesn’t offer a thorough examination of North Korea or its politics by any stretch but what it does it is successful in and it also doesn’t allow America out of the firing line either. It is made very clear here that President Kim is smart and when he is cornered he can certainly call bulls**t on certain aspects of American government and a riff about America constantly trying things again despite them never working also hits home. The film is mainly concerned with cock jokes and Lord of the Rings references but Rogen and Goldberg show their obvious awareness of social issues well enough.

While it will be forever remembered as the film which caused the Sony hack, The Interview also deserves to be recalled as a successful comedy.

**** 4/5


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