Controversy, hacking, on the brink of world war III, all that things that a Seth Rogan and James Franco comedy should not be able to cause. “To Kill a Mockingbird” has nothing on “The Interview”. Yes, we live in a world where something as outlandish as a Rogan, Franco comedy was able to make more impact than Politicians, Kony 2012, and the Bible (I am of course generalizing and speaking hyperbole). To put it fairly though after seeing the film, the plot is so outlandish that it’s hard to take it seriously. I put aside the controversy, hype and personal feelings I had going in, and judged it as a movie.
It’s very easy to go in and let your personal feelings get in the way of a movie of this magnitude (I mean I even brought in a copy of the constitution to get a free popcorn on the theater). How was it? It was as good as any other Seth Rogan, James Franco comedy. It had moments of absolute hilarity, maybe not always consistent; but an excellent beginning, a weak middle, and a solid ending. Franco and Rogan once again showcase their majestic comedic chemistry with some surprising sharp directing but generic direction. “The Interview” like 2014’s other Seth Rogan comedy “Neighbors” doesn’t break new ground and if you weren’t a fan of them before this won’t change that.
The plot of this movie at this point bears no repeating (but since this how I review movies, I’m going to do it anyways). This follows two TV journalists that run a TMZ-equse show where they focus on the celebrity life. Looked down as jokes by professional film journalists, producer Aaron (Seth Rogan) wants to be taken seriously. The host of the show Dave Skylawk (James Franco) finds out that the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong- Um, is a big fan of the show, and lands an interview with him inside the capital of North Korea.
What continues to shine here is the relationship and chemistry between James Franco and Seth Rogan. We know they are brilliant together, that’s been evident as soon as “Pineapple Express” hit theaters back in 2006. Whether you enjoy their comedy or not, what’s clear is this a match made in heaven for their brand of comedy.
As for “The Interview” it’s starts off very strong. The first third of the movie is almost consistently gut busting hilarious. Great one liners, funny pop culture references, some less then subtle (yet still funny) satire. What’s interesting is “The Interview” in the whole first act takes more shots at American life and entertainment culture then anything about North Korea. It’s semi-standard material for Rogan and Franco yet still they still fire on all cylinders. A lot of the pop culture references aren’t going to make sense unless you’re “in with the material”. For instance the opening interview of Eminem helps establish the whole movie. If you don’t know about the controversy surrounding the artist you won’t get the joke (although I’m sure people of this time and period would most likely get it).
Then though we reach the second act. This is where the movie almost rides itself off the rails. Right after the duo reach North Korea and have to “secure the package” (easily the most laugh out loud moment of the film) the movie can’t keep consistent. The script begins to lose Rogan’s character and focus heavily on Franco’s relationship with Kim Jong-Um, which is able to get a few chuckles but begins to wear thin and repetitive. The high amount of energy that this was able to muster in the beginning is lost quickly.
The third act is a step back in the right direction. From the final interview and all the chaos that ensues afterward, it does get pretty fun in its overly hyper-reality manner. It does become a bit too over the top and overly violent but not quite enough to lose that fun vibe. This movie is almost two hours long (about 112 to be exact); it could have used some shaving of its running time. A lot of the second act could have been cut almost 10 minutes, which would have made this a much tighter and better package.
Putting everything aside about the “controversy”, the film is a pretty solid comedy. It does have many stand out moments, and great comedic acting from Rogan and Franco; this is exactly what we’ve come to expect from the duo. Still though, the second act is sloppy, loses steam and isn’t consistent and brings the whole film down as a whole. A fun and dopey comedy, “The Interview” did what it set out to do.