The Interview Review: Was It Worth All the Trouble?

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I’m not sure a film so insignificant in its quality has ever made headlines like The Interview. After all that trouble, it’s kind of just there. But the news is destined to make audiences love or hate it, neither reaction of which seems warranted.

What this comedy boils down to is some very funny parts, with long stretches inbetween, and some dumbed down politics, even if its heart is in the right place.

For those living under a rock, The Interview sees entertainment talk show host Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his show’s producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) being invited to North Korea for an interview with Kim Jong-un (Randall Park), a fan of their show. The CIA gets wind and Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) asks Dave and Aaron to assassinate the world leader. It’s basically a button-pushing version of the co-stars other major vehicle, Pineapple Express.

One major difference, however, is that Franco is so hammy and over-the-top here. It’s a really weird and initially off-putting choice for his character, but it did make me wonder if The Interview would have been better as a stage-production. At least that’s how Franco plays it. Once the story settles in it becomes a little more fun, but it’s really distracting at first. Rogen, on the other hand, plays to his strengths with an occasionally funny but mostly safe turn as the straight man to Franco’s eccentric man.

So while things get off to a rough start, all the best material comes when the pair first arrives in North Korea. Probably the high point of the movie is Aaron’s confrontation with a wild tiger, which plays like a slapstick version of an episode of Homeland.

But The Interview was going to head into politics eventually, and it does so pretty messily. The script does its best to bring the real life sins of North Korea to light, while smartly not ignoring the US’, but the resolution falls on the side of propaganda. There’s a lot of simplicity and wishful thinking going on here. That’s not to say that I expected The Interview to be politically sound, but politics kind of need to be an all-or-nothing type deal, otherwise the writing will just seem immature.

As for the racism that many feared would be laced throughout the movie, it actually ends up being pretty tasteful. While Dave and Aaron certainly have their moments of ignorance, the script is pretty clearly laughing at them, not with them. That doesn’t come across for every joke, but it’s still mostly successful at avoiding racism.

Not much else can really be said. The Interview is decent enough that it’s worth a watch for those looking for a few light-hearted laughs. If you expect anymore, especially concerning the subject matter, seek elsewhere. But the fact of the matter is, when the headlines eventually die down, so will The Interview‘s legacy. Grade: B-

By Matt Dougherty

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