Friday, January 30, 2015

It May Not Live Up to the Hype, But "The Interview" is Still Hilarious

The chemistry of James Franco and Seth Rogen carries The Interview.
With all the buildup from the Guardians of Peace brouhaha, The Interview was never going to live up to the hype. Even though it has some worthwhile points to make about the descent of journalism, it's mostly just a juvenile, bro-comedy -- the type of movie that shouldn't have to carry a torch for free speech.

Still, there's no denying The Interview is an enjoyable film. It's not quite as good as what Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg gave us with This is The End and Pineapple Express, but it's in the ballpark. It definitely has the same anarchic sense of humor, and, like those films, it goes over-the-top in some gut-busting ways.

Generally speaking, I'd say the film is decent enough during its first 20 minutes, gets really hilarious for about an hour, and then ends with a so-so action-infused blowout that's made significantly funnier by the fact that it plays out exactly as idiot talk show host Dave Skylark (James Franco) dreamed it would when he and his producer (Rogen) were first approached by a CIA operative (Lizzy Caplan) to assassinate Kim Jong-un (Randall Park).

There is a lot to enjoy here, as the film nicely employs what I guess you'd call smartly juvenile humor. One of the funniest running themes in the movie involves "honeypotting" or "honeydicking," a concept that critiques the methods a monster like Jong-un uses to keep control over his citizens (urban dictionary explains).

Acting wise, Diana Bang steals scenes as North Korea's sexy communication director, while Caplan, despite being the straight woman in some of the funniest scenes, is pretty much wasted. Meanwhile, Park (best known for his humorous work on Veep) has an inspired take on Jong-un, playing him as a sheepishly chill dude who just happens to be a megalomaniac with daddy issues. Although this interpretation of the notorious dictator wouldn't be out of place on SNL, Park's Jong-un is a well-calibrated bad guy that's actually better developed than about eight out of ten action movie villains.

But, unsurprisingly, The Interview's success rests on the comedic chemistry between its likable leads. Rogen freaking out is never not funny, and, as with their previous collaborations, the writer-director generously gifts Franco all the funniest lines. Franco is a talented performer, but can, at times, come across as stiff or distracted (which is unsurprising given all the balls he has up in the air at any one time). However, when he's working with Rogen, the actor taps into a surreal, overly-committed wave length that's just a blast to behold.

While I'd say The Interview definitely wasn't worth all the fuss, it provides a decent amount of fun, while still working in a nice under-riding theme that, oddly enough, seems even more compellingly relevant given the unscrupulous way the media handled the reporting of the Sony hack. It's weird, silly and fun with a little something to say too -- sounds pretty good to me. B