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Saturday, December 27, 2014

GeekRex Quick Take: The Interview

The Interview Review

The Buzz: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have been on a hot streak for years, collaborating on the shockingly influential Superbad before moving onto superior stoner comedy Pineapple Express and last year's excellent apocalypse comedy This is the End, so when it was announced that they would make a comedy satirizing the assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, audiences... wait, none of you give a shit about this. The real 'buzz' behind The Interview features a truly bizarre story about what just might be history's first real cyberwar skirmish, threats of terrorism, and leaked e-mails that have set Hollywood abuzz for weeks now. Lost amidst all the controversy: Is The Interview a good movie?

What's Great About the Movie: Plenty. While The Interview isn't on the upper-tier of Rogen/Goldberg vehicles, it is nevertheless a brisk flick with plenty of laughs. Particularly game is Randall Park (Veep) and relative newcomer Diana Bang (Bates Motel) as, respectively, Kim Jong-un and his head propagandist. Bang has a ferocious amount of comic energy in her tiny frame that she doesn't really get to release until the film's climax, and Randall Park absolutely steals the show as the lonely, insane dictator prone to rocking out to Katy Perry while he does donuts in a tank given to his grandfather by Stalin. The two of them have fantastic chemistry with Rogen and Franco, and I definitely hope to see more of them in future films. Plus? Best use of Katy Perry's "Fireworks" I've ever seen in a feature film, and a pretty hilarious early cameo from Eminem that the trailers haven't beat into submission as they did the Rob Lowe bit.

What's Not-So-Great About the Movie: Plenty. The Interview isn't on the upper-tier of Rogen/Goldberg vehicles, and with damn good reason. While Rogen acquits himself reasonably well as the film's jokey voice of reason, James Franco never quite finds his voice as Skylark, and his overbroad performance gives the film many of its weakest moments. Franco is relentless and dedicated to his character, but, particularly surrounded by the subtler comedy of Rogen, Bang, and Park, he feels like he was ported in from a much broader film. Indeed, the entire movie feels like an epic struggle between a broad anus-obsessed goof-off session between a couple buddies and a surprisingly whip-smart satire, two tones that never quite come together.

Final Verdict: The Interview is... pretty good. Hell, at points, The Interview verges on excellence, particularly in the segments where American media guru Dave Skylark finds himself completely buying into North Korea's propaganda, more than happy to believe that the American media lies given how much shit he himself shovels every day. Indeed, The Interview is far more effective as a satire on American international relations, a thread that keeps popping up only to be buried amidst a barrage of rectum jokes. It's a ridiculous movie, and an enjoyable one, but there are a few long, laughless stretches in the early going and a climax that struggles to blend the manic energy of Rogen and Bang's scene with the more understated comedy of Franco's interview.

The Interview is available in select theaters across the nation and on streaming services like Google Play.

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