Man, what a weird couple of days its been. A week ago I thought that I would never see Seth Rogen’s newest film The Interview after Sony Pictures canceled the release and shelved the film indefinitely. This is all after the massive security breath at Sony, with the hackers possibly being the North Koreans who are very angry over the subject matter of the film. When Sony pulled the film a week ago, people were pissed (I was one of them). Even President Obama expressed his disappointment in the studio for not releasing the film. Well, just out of the blue, The Interview is back. Its scheduled the screen exclusively in 300 theaters across the country, and a few hours ago Sony announced that the film would be available to stream and buy online. I didn’t want to buy the film, so I opted to rent the film. I never thought I would be saying these words (in this year at least), but here’s my review of The Interview.
The Interview is a story of two men. One is Dave Skylark, the host of his own entertainment talk show played by James Franco, and his producer Aaron, played by Seth Rogen. Together, these two men have one of the highest rated talk shows in the country, and they all sorts of success. Dave and Aaron discover that one of the biggest fans of the show is Kim Jong-un, the dictator of North Korea. They are then able to schedule an interview with the ruthless dictator, but before they leave for the interview, the C.I.A. recruits them to assassinate the dictator during the interview. Both men agree and the journey begins.
Rogen directs the film with longtime partner Evan Goldberg, with their last directing job being last years This is The End, which I unfortunately missed, but I heard was wickedly funny. Goldberg and Rogen produced this years Neighbors, which I was able to catch at SXSW and found that film to be one of the funniest of the year. From the few reviews that were released of The Interview right before Sony pulled the plug on the wide release, many found the film to not be that funny, while some thought it was very funny. I’m probably in the middle. I would say that I had high hopes going into the film (obviously) due to the controversy surrounding the film and that a movie with Seth Rogen as the lead was being talked about by the President and was the top story on CNN and every other major news outlet for the past week. I’m very happy that the film is selling out in the limited theaters its in, and hopefully the film will do exceptionally well on VOD. I just wish the film was a little bit funnier.
Now don’t get me wrong, there were some moments in the film where I was genuinely laughing out loud, and I was just watching the film on my TV, not in a theater. Seth Rogen is of course very good in his role, as he’s proved himself to be this generations Bill Murray. James Franco was very good in his role, and it was a little odd to see Franco play such a flamboyant and loud character. He was pretty funny and the chemistry between Rogen and Franco is uncanny. Both men light up the screen when they’re bouncing jokes off of each other. We also get an appearance by Lizzy Caplan, who is practically wasted in the role of a C.I.A. agent. Caplan is a very talented and funny actress, so it’s a shame that Rogen couldn’t find anything else for her to do. Rogen gave Rose Byrne what was essentially her breakout film role in Neighbors, where she was making my burst out in laughter during that film. I wish Rogen had done the same with Caplan.
Randall Park, who many of you may recognize from Veep, plays the North Korean leader in a funny and strangely sympathetic role. One of the weaker parts of the film is when you find out that Kim has daddy issues, and that’s sort of why he is the way he is. These moments started out as very fun and funny, but after a while it kind of got a little stale, and the humor just really wasn’t there. But Park looks the part of the dictator, and he does have some genuinely funny moments. I’ve always liked Park as a comedic actor, so its good that he’s in a role that’s getting as much press as it is. To think about it, I’m a little happy Sony went with this way of releasing the film the day of (or before if you want to be literal about everything). The main theater exhibitors are pissed that Sony would do that, but releasing The Interview is the beginning of the end for the movie going experience. I wrote an article a couple of months back about that (you can read it here) and I’m sort of happy that’s how its coming to be. I still want to see movies in the theaters, but it’s always a pain in the ass to do so. Hopefully since Sony is releasing the film like this, it will give the big chains a wake up call to give their theaters and the customers a better movie going experience.
To sum it up, The Interview does have its moments of hilarity, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark like it should. I can’t say its the funniest film I’ve seen all year, since we did have greats like 22 Jump Street and Top Five, which is still in theaters. Rogen and Franco are both great in the film, and it does have that Spies Like Us vibe to it, so that’s kind of cool. I just recommend you renting and going to see the film so the North Koreans can get more and more pissed, and also so the theater chains can get up off their ass and start making going to the movies THE THING to do for entertainment again. If you don’t want to hang with your family all day, or if you want to do something with your family, you should rent The Interview. It won’t kill ya (well, hopefully it won’t).