STARS: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Randall Park, Lizzy Caplan
DIRECTOR: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
It's ten minutes past the scheduled show time, and the screen is still dark. A theater employee walks down the aisle to make an announcement. Sorry, folks...we're having a little problem...we have to restart the projector...I DON'T THINK IT'S A HACK...thanks for your patience. Such is the movie going experience in the days of free speech in America under attack from piss-ant dictatorships across the sea. (Just when we had our hands full with home-grown assaults under the guise of political correctness.)
The film started shortly thereafter, with Seth Rogen and co-director Evan Goldberg--in a tacked on segment at the beginning--saying "If you are watching this, then you're a g-damned phucking American hero!"
I can't remember when I've felt so patriotic.
I'd heard that The Interview had opened to mixed reviews on Christmas day, but I gotta tell ya I was pleasantly surprised at how good and wickedly funny this movie is!
Dave Skylark (Franco) and Aaron Rapoport (Rogen) host a cable TV show called Skylark Tonight . It happens that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, whose job title is Supreme Leader Who Doesn't Pee Or Poo, is a fan of the show. (We know that the real Kim is an avid film buff and consumer of American movies, so thus far the plot isn't too far-fetched). Dave and Aaron get invited to Pyongyang to conduct and interview with Kim, which is supposed to be a soft ball affair where he gets a chance to plead his case to the west. (Dennis Rodman set the precedent here, so again, not terribly far-fetched.) Kim's not a bad guy at all (despite the labor camps, malnourished citizenry, and total suppression of human rights.)
When a sexy CiA agent (Lizzy Caplan) learns of the upcoming trip, she sees an opportunity to get rid of one of the world's most ruthless strongmen. She convinces the boys that it's their duty to take him out, which is to be accomplished by way of a poison to be administered through a handshake.
From here on, everything in The Interview IS far-fetched, and so raunchy and over-the-top hilarious that I suddenly envisioned the president and Michelle viewing it (which they're bound to do, just so they really know what all the fuss is about), and hoping they didn't make the mistake of allowing the girls to see it!
Randall Park can't quite nail down the physical presence of Kim--he doesn't have that baby-faced manchild look of the real guy--but beyond that he gives a winning performance as a Jekyll and Hyde manipulator who charms the pants off our heroes initially, then reveals his true nature when crunch time arrives.
And there's this hot Korean army chick whose real name is Diana Bang. How perfect is that?
Grade: B +
I went, grousing and grumbling, to see The Inteview – assuming it would be utter fluff and one dumb movie per year is my quota. I was wrong. As silly as the premise is, it made me giggle from start to finish. As Tim was imagining the Obama Family watching this fart-friendly film, I kept imagining the real Kim Jong Un watching it. Not known for his self-deprecating sense of humor, North Korea's Chief of State would be highly insulted. (He might even nuke us for such insolence.)
Be that as it may, I must say I was seriously impressed by James Franco's portrayal of Dave Skylark, a seemingly superficial TV talk show host. Having seen Franco in 127 Hours (for which he received a Best Actor nomination in 2011), I knew he had acting chops. What I didn't know was how funny he could be. And believably funny, too. Not all leading men types can make that switch. So Bravo, Signor Franco!
As for Seth Rogen? He directed, wrote and produced this opus. And that's nothing to sneeze at. Of course, I have a special affinity for the lad since he grew up in a city that I lived in (and loved) for over 17 years: Vancouver, BC. The Interview is not going to appeal to everyone but I heard on the news that on its first weekend playing in theaters, it was the highest grossing film in China's history.