You don’t know dictator
By the time this review gets to you, the once blacklisted The Interview has been available on the likes of YouTube, iTunes and Xbox while playing in a limited number of theaters. Did you ever really doubt you would get a chance to see it? Commerce always wins!
Co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s film, like Team America: World Police 10 years ago, plays like one of those impossibly strange and undeniably funny Warner Brothers propaganda cartoons that were in circulation during World War II, the ones where the likes of Bugs Bunny would square off against Hitler. The major difference is that the newer satirists say “motherfucker” a lot.
This is touchy stuff, but Rogen and his costar James Franco are up to the task of pissing all over North Korea, American media and the CIA. They don’t go after these institutions with contemplative, important, intellectual arguments.
They attack with dick and shit jokes.
As I would expect from a political satire starring Rogen and Franco, The Interview obsesses over things like whether or not Kim Jong-un actually has a butthole. Mind you, the film does address real world hot topics like nukes and people starving here and there but, mainly, it is really concerned about the whole “Kim Jong-un doesn’t have to pee or poo” thing.
Franco plays Dave Skylark, the flamboyant host of an American tabloid interview show, notorious for such stories as Eminem admitting he’s gay and Rob Lowe revealing his baldness. When Skylark discovers that Kim Jong-un’s favorite TV shows are Big Bang Theory and his program, he conspires with his producer (Rogen) to procure an interview with the world leader that will establish their legitimacy as real news guys. Their plans to just interview the guy get mildly complicated when the CIA gets wind and insists on the two killing the notoriously reclusive basketball fan.
Like this year’s Godzilla before it, The Interview’s monster doesn’t show up until about an hour into its running time. Kim Jong-un, hilariously played by Randall Park, is a bashful Skylark fan who loves Katy Perry and margaritas. In what is surely a riff on the infamous Dennis Rodman-Kim Jong-un bromance, Skylark and Kim take an instant liking to each other. They play basketball, blow up parts of the countryside with tanks and party all night long.
Of course, Kim has that bad side we all know about, so Park’s portrayal goes all Jekyll and Hyde when the Supreme Leader starts threatening to nuke the world if it doesn’t recognize his superior strength. It’s in these moments that Park’s performance becomes a tad more blustery.
Rogen is pretty much Rogen here—that is to say, he’s one of filmdom’s most underrated comic actors, with impeccable timing and a steady stream of those corrective, snarky retorts. Franco goes all out childish in this one with an intentionally high-pitched, appropriately sophomoric performance. His running account of a tiger attack on Rogen’s character is one of the film’s great highlights. Lizzy Caplan offers up some good supporting work as a CIA director who “honeypots” the two into the assassination scheme.
The final interview between Skylark and Jong-un is a comedic stew of tears, bullets, puppies, finger biting and sharting. Park gives us a Katy Perry-induced nervous breakdown for the ages, and he should get some sort of award for Best Acted Slow Motion Death Scene, because what he does in his final moments is beyond epic.
Does the movie live up to all of the hype? I think it does, but I am prone to laughter when it comes to good jokes about buttholes and stink-dicks. It’s a totally silly, juvenile movie delivered by some very goofy, mischievous guys.
A big “sorry” to all of you looking for The Interview to be some sort of patriotic manifesto intelligently taking a stand against the likes of North Korea. For that sort of movie you must look elsewhere. This film is about the political ramifications of a world leader sharting on live TV.