Rogen and Franco In The Dark Zany "The Interview"
By Scott Kurland
Film: The Interview
Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, and Randall Park
I was suppose to review “The Interview” back in December. However, due to the cyberhack of Sony Pictures, and the threats brought on by this satire every critics screening was cancelled. Actually, every screening for two and a half weeks was cancelled because of the hack. I know what you’re thinking. Why would a raunchy comedy cause such chaos? Is it really such a taboo film? Granted depicting the assassination of the North Korean dictator is a bit much, yet was it worth hacking a corporation and exposing people’s secrets? Well even though a few theaters released this film, this week “The Interview” is coming to VOD: Video OnDemand, Google play, and YouTube. Lets find out if it’s any good, shall we?
“The Interview” stars James Franco as Dave Skylark, a cocky, charming, and ignorant talk show host who’s idea of news is celebrity sex tapes and interviewing controversial rappers like Eminem. Skylark’s Producer Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen) is growing tired of these fluff pieces and wants a challenge. Well Aaron gets the challenge of a life time when Skylark gets the opportunity to interview North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un (Randall Park). What was suppose to be a career making interview slowly becomes a never ending headache when Aaron and Skylark get a mission from the CIA (Lizzy Caplan) to assassinate their dictator interviewee. Can they accomplish this mission or will Dave Skylark succumb to the charms of President Kim?
A lot (I can’t emphasis enough on the LOT) of critics and people are bashing not only this film, but trashing Franco’s performance. I saw this film twice in order to wrap my head around Franco’s performance. Franco normally plays those James Dean-ish roles, where he’s reserved and sophisticated. In “The Interview” Franco has been called childish, naive, and incredibly selfish to the point of annoy. I can’t deny any of those traits, actually Franco displays all of them, and yes it is a bit upsetting at first then you have to realize who he is based on. Franco is playing Dennis Rodman, this entire film is based on when Rodman went to North Korea. So it’s only natural that Franco capture Rodman’s smug sense of self worth, self entitlement, and over the top fashion (note: Franco wears more purple suits than the Joker in this film.) If you truly think about it Franco has a difficult role, and handles it quite well, even if at times he is nerve racking.
For me the greatest performance in the film is Randall Park as Kim Jong Un. I never laughed more at a performance in a film. Park makes Un come off as a star struck fanboy who tells Skylark his deep dark secrets one minute. Then, the next minute Un is absolutely enraged and psychotic throwing hissy fits and rocking out to Katy Perry. It’s a shame that Park’s performance might be swept under the rug because of all the controversy around this picture. Park is absolutely hysterical and one of the most comedic villains in a film since...well his father Kim Jong Il when he was made into a chief antagonist in “Team America: World Police”.
Let’s get to the meat of it the film itself and should it be causing such a hullabaloo? As a whole the film is a clever idea and it doesn’t have the best dialog between Franco and Rogen, but that might be due to all of the improvising. Granted, the dialog isn’t the best, but this film is incredibly funny. The visual jokes are so out there and ridiculous you have to wonder what Rogen and co-director/writer Evan Goldberg were thinking, and how far they were willing to go. Trust me dear reader when I say they went so far out there they’re caught in the “Twilight Zone”.
What I loved most about this film were the color contrast between America and North Korea. America is shot so colorfully with blues, purples, and oranges. Yet once we’re in North Korea there’s a sense of dark urgency, lots of greys, blacks, and green basically all the drab colors you’d expect to see in a setting like this. Seeing such a harsh color change was almost like watching a reverse version of “The Wizard of Oz.” With that said on to the controversy. I’m not going to get into a debate about freedom of speech or whether or not this film should have been pulled from theaters. What I will say is that once you see this movie and believe me when I say “See this movie”, you will see how too much of a big deal was made out of nothing. Yes, the topic of assassination is dark territory to navigate, but is it truly a threat when it’s being made by two of the biggest stoners on the face of the earth? If this was a Cheech and Chong Movie from the 70’s very little chaos would come from it. However, we live in such a digital media driven age that a film at some point was bound to cause such harsh ramification. I never thought it would be at the hands of the two guys from “Freaks and Geeks”, but what can you do?
“The Interview” is a very entertaining dark comedy, and since it’s only $5.99 OnDemand, Google Play, and YouTube. I would give it a shot, if only to see what all the controversy was over. This is one film that has been so hyped, that it’s acceptable to let your curiosity lead you on this black comedy of zany delights.
Review Rating: B+