Rated: R for pervasive language, crude and sexual humor, nudity, some drug use and bloody violence. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: December 25, 2014 Released by: Columbia Pictures
This controversial action comedy was nearly derailed in its release by threatening hackers known as "Guardians of the Peace" but the studio reneged amid opinions by Pres. Obama among others to put in 331 independent theaters on Christmas as well as many digital outlets including YouTube movies and a separate Sony website. Since there's been no major international release most of the illegal downloads have been overseas and some are wondering whether the helter-skelter nature of the release was just a big publicity stunt.
It turns the latest Seth Rogen/James Franco collaboration after an apocalyptic hedonism in This Is The End has a backstory of Hollywood satire as The Interview unfolds as an increasingly tedious cartoonish rude, excessive, double-entendre farce with the element of violence and dictator's incendiary demise taken more seriously by showbiz officials than the US government. But, its target audience who've made it an "event" will eat up many of the gags involving derogatory sexual insinuations and, later, its ultraviolet energy.
An action-comedy finds some amusement from brotherly bonding amidst a bubbly geopolitical set-up involving North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un (who's befriended flamboyant ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman). Who turns out to be an unexpected divisive figure in the film's key relationship.
Rogen's small-screen news producer, Aaron Rapaport, wants to get more out of his profession than discoveries about Eminem or Rob Lowe (shades of his 'Direct TV' dual persona advertising). When he learns nuclear weapon trigger-happy Kim (Randall Park of Neighbors and HBO's popular Veep who more than looks the part) is into his talk/tabloid show hosted by publicity-obsessed Dave Skylark (Franco, hamming it up), manipulative CIA operatives (Lizzy Caplan, Reese Alexander) persuade Aaron and Dave to take out Kim with a lethal handshake.
Helmers Rogen and Evan Goldberg provide some atmosphere for Asian locales like Pyongyang, as the arrival of idiot savants like Aaron and Dave has the latter quite charmed with their more than ready talking head. While the former is more than interested in Kim's communications assistant Sook (a duplicitous Diana Bang). Katy Perry gets more than a plug here as a fascination of Kim that ultimately takes the spark out of an initially humorous firework.
The witty banter and likability of Franco and Rogen is evident (not as much as in their earlier more convincing Pineapple Express) with Franco's facial expressions often distorted to maximize posing moxie while Rogen's lower key straight-man role makes him the brunt of the cruder interludes, notably involving a clandestine CIA rectal moment. Still for all of the silly, sophomoric fizzling of Dan Sterling's screenplay, an undercurrent of insouciant mockery on a media and political level can be detected within the insider bits that are desperate to hit the mark when they often fall short.
The Interview doesn't really credits an audience like it should perhaps because of how it uses the lowbrow antics as a crutch instead of using it for something more pointed whereas much more was considerably considered from the premise from films from Charlie Chaplin to the recent Inglourious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino which didn't seem to get a rise out of the neo-Nazis. The climax (caught by many before its release) becomes more pedestrian than ironically inspired from the desire to have a potent contemptible malefactor.
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