“The Interview” Movie Review

     Oh how Seth Rogan and James Franco must’ve been tickled pink when their film “The Interview” garnered them a lifetime’s worth of free press, even if some of it was negative. I mean it’s not often a low brow Hollywood comedy becomes the focal point of an international incident. Masters of promotion know it doesn’t really matter if people speak of you positively or negatively, they just need to be talking about you. That’s all that’s important. And amidst the brutal cyberattack on Sony and the subsequent shelving of the film due to apparent threats to all exhibitors who would dare show the film on Christmas Day, the starring duo received all kinds of public commentary, even going as high as President Obama himself weighing in on the clear win by the cyber-terrorists who successfully got both Sony and theater exhibitors to fold.  Lost in all of this overblown media hype and speculation was the film itself.  Was it really worth all the fuss? Is it any good?  In a word. No.

     “The Interview”, directed by both Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan, who successfully tag teamed the inventive “This is the End” in the summer of 2013, is the kind of film that you would believe was concocted from the bedtime fantasies of a couple 14 year old boys.  Complete with Asian sex kittens, big guns and explosions, alcohol and drugs, and heaping amounts of dick jokes.  The story introduces us to a trash TV talk show host named Dave Skylark (James Franco), who hosts a popular show called “Skylark Tonight”, produced by his best buddy, Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogan).  They specialize in the kind of made for TV moments many modern talk shows compete greatly for.  In one bit, they have Rob Lowe, playing himself, revealing for the first time that he is bald and has been living a lie with hair pieces his entire adult life.  The on set reactions to this scene seemed mildly funny in the trailer, but knowing how the scene plays out in the film just detracts from the experience.  Then, when you realize the script has nothing else to offer, the whole thing becomes a bigger dud with each passing scene.

     Dave and Aaron find out that the “Supreme Leader” and dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un (Randall Park), is a big fan of the show and decide to try and arrange for a live interview.  When they succeed, it’s on to North Korea but with one catch.  The CIA, led by the alluring Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan), has provided the duo with a lethal dose of Ricin to be used in a wild assassination plot.  There’s a constant joke about “honey potting” in which someone tries to get you to see them as having plenty in common with yourself and the banter reference this begins with the scenes at CIA Headquarters and continue on throughout the film.  We’re constantly told Kim is a master manipulator and will have no problem controlling the interview with Dave and thus “honey potting” is likely part of the plan.

     When they arrive to a North Korea that is much more epic in scope than you might expect for a film like this, they are greeted by the obligatory Asian hotty tough girl military Officer, Sook (Diana Bang, who was quite a find for the role), of whom you know one of the two goofballs will definitely fall for.  In addition, Kim comes off as a dream buddy for Dave as he treats him to days of excessive partying, drinking, sex with hookers, and drugs, all of which come with zero consequence (another young teen fantasy).  Where this all leads is as predictable as ever.  After all, you don’t think anyone would really care about this movie had they not gone through with it, do you?  The filmmakers employ all of the typical Bond spy film and Asian Martial Arts film tropes and try some how to fusion that with there usual brand of Apatow style raunchy comedy. To be fair, the films climactic sequence is well done in an action film sort of way and quite a bit more effective than the ending of the last “Die Hard” movie, which this ending kind of reminded me of.  For those who prefer their films with absolutely no thought required, everything is all wrapped up in a nice tight bow at the conclusion and all is well in the world of these two utter morons. 

     For Rogen, this seems to be a huge step back having come off the success of this past summer’s “Neighbors” which smartly cast him as a guy transitioning to married with children life only to have a fraternity movie in next door and comically interrupt the process.  For Franco, I suppose this is to be expected once in a while.  He seems to astonish us with performances like those seen in “127 Hours” and “Spring Break”, only to descend deep within his inner man child and churn out a stinker like “The Interview”.  So it turns out this film wasn’t worth any of the hype it received.  You’d think if these “hackers” were going to make a big deal about a film that would supposedly have some significant social, political, or international impact, why not choose a film that at least was representative of an awards caliber film?  It makes me wonder, did they even watch it first?  If they had, I have to figure “The Interview” would’ve come out on December 25th as scheduled and tanked accordingly. GRADE: D