Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Interview - Dir. Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen (2014)

Yesterday, I received this review from my counterpart and collaborator.  Some of the same points were brought up in my review, but the fact that two of us independently came to the same conclusions renders the additional opinion valuable.  Plus, Jay's classic bombast is always worth a few minutes of your time.

               Riddle me this ladies and gentlemen, how does one make a simple silly stoner movie into the biggest hit of the holiday season? The answer: quite simply, Honey-dick the whole world into an international incident.  The beauty and genius of The Interview is that the people behind it have, with the utmost cleverness, produced a meta-opus of life imitating art imitating life, and have done it with textbook perfect writing and structure, along with a delightful cast.
                First off let’s address this controversy. Rogen had to know from the beginning that any film he made vaguely involving the DPRK was sure to draw the ire of Kim Jong Un, (hereafter referred to as #KJU) So while it may seem unlikely, all the heinous things from the movie—the starvation, the not having a butthole, all the other odd facts that seemed crazy—are completely true. North Korea is a fucked up place, and the truth is always far stranger than fiction. To be completely honest I don’t know at all really what #KJU was upset about. The movie is extremely generous with the character of #KJU. He’s quite likeable, seems almost misunderstood, and at one point, Franco’s character even refuses to kill him. To this extent I feel Rogen’s last line in the film is almost a wink at how fucked up a situation this was. One of the greatest aspects of this whole movie was the fact that Rogen honey-dicked #KJU into giving this movie press that money couldn’t buy. (For an explanation of what honey-dicking is, one should view the movie.)
                Putting controversy aside and viewing this movie for what it is, it even gets better. First off let’s address the other elephant in the room. This is a movie, not a film, don’t make the mistake for a fleeting second that a FRANCO/ROGEN joint was going to be a high art film bound for black tie screenings and touching emotional reviews. This is a MOVIE, a classic Hollywood good time, there are tanks and helicopters and tigers and good laughs, and SPOILER ALERT, the Bad Guy loses.  But beyond that, the writing was excellent: everything is foreshadowed, everything—to the point of brilliance. The special effects weren’t out of control, but they were Michael Bay quality, and the sound direction was exquisite.
                The acting wasn’t bad, either. Rogen and Franco are both very believable in their albeit highly silly roles, and their on screen chemistry gets better with every movie. Randall Park who plays #KJU is great; he’s funny, likeable, and the perfect foil to Franco. The big surprise to me is that the sexy CIA agent Lacey WASN’T Zooey Deschanel. Now I understand that Zooey Deschanel has become a “look,” but the gorgeous Lizzy Caplan could be her twin. Everyone’s acting was as stellar as possible for a slapstick dick joke stoner comedy, it was honestly everything that a red-blooded, white, popcorn- eating, blue-Icee-drinking, American movie going public wants.

                Controversy or not THE INTERVIEW delivers. It’s well written, completely tactless and rude, but will leave you laughing.  It does run a bit long at 112 minutes, but you don’t feel like it needs to end just because you’re afraid you might lose your bladder if there is one more really funny joke. Franco and Rogen make a very specific type of film for a very specific type of audience, as long as you don’t go in expecting the next Schindler’s List you’ll have a great time. And don’t ask me about the puppy, but I give him a thumbs up too.

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