Sunday 17 May 2015

The Interview

Depending on your view of the comedic merits of Seth Rogen, the pulling of The Interview’s (2014) release last year could be the most humane act ever connected with the North Korean regime.

As we all know, the film was famously canned after mysterious computer geeks hacked Sony’s computers and threatened attacks against any cinemas showing the film.

In response, liberals the world over suddenly became fully fledged Seth Rogen fans (at least until the moment they actually saw the movie) and supplied Sony with more free publicity than they could have ever possibly imagined.

The plot 

A celebrity chat show host and his loyal producer manage to land an interview with North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un, after discovering he’s a massive fan of the show. This piques the interest of the CIA who recruit the pair to use the interview as cover for a covert assassination attempt.

Who the hell is in this? 

Seth Rogen plays Aaron Rapaport, producer of the Skylark show which is fronted by Dave Skylark (James Franco). Rogen and Franco have appeared in a whole host of films together.

When they first teamed-up it seemed that Franco was giving a leg up to the more junior Rogen, but now the roles seem to have reversed with the comedian helping to give his homeboy a pay check.

The good 

Whether you ultimately like this or not will really depend on your taste for Seth Rogen, but Eminem’s cameo role as a guest coming out on the Skylark show was a high point. For the rest of the movie Rogen plays his usual loveable bear character who eventually triumphs and gets the girl.

While many can’t stand Seth Rogen films – his mere involvement proving a turn off - he has expanded his repertoire somewhat (admittedly not in this film) and is very likeable. Although Franco’s turn is a major downside to the film his bonding with Kim Jung-Un over father issues, a mutual love of margheritas and Katy Perry is very well done.

The bad 

Rogen goes for some easy ‘me so sorry’ laughs early on that really let the film down and do nothing to combat accusations of racism. There’s also an unnecessary section set in China after Rogen’s character is summoned to meet with Kim Jung-un’s representatives to discuss a possible interview.

The only conceivable reason for its inclusion is that Rogen (who is always in charge of a Rogen film) wanted to see China, because the punchline the gag builds to is really not worth it. There’s also some weirdly over the top blood splattered goriness that comes from nowhere.

The unwatchable 

Two words. James Franco.

I get that he is playing an over the top celebrity chat show host but Franco’s performance contains more ham than a high street butcher’s shop. The gurning and extreme facial expressions are bad enough but what seems to be ad-libbing (and I really hope it can be put down to ad-libbing) shows the paucity of Franco’s comedic chops.

Seth Rogen could have been kinder to his mate and employed a harsher editor – or just made sure he stuck to the script.

Exploding helicopter action 

After the initial plan to kill Kim Jung-un with a slow releasing poison goes tits up, the good guys eventually assassinate the supreme leader by firing a rocket from a tank into a helicopter. Seconds away from setting off a nuclear attack, the grinning Kim Jung-un’s face turns to horror as he realises his impending doom.

Artistic merit 

As the missile is fired we see the attack in slow motion to a soundtrack of Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ (I obviously wasn’t aware of this song before watching this movie). After an explosion that turns the North Korean leader into a human fireball we see the chopper fall from the sky behind the heroes’ tank. And then there’s some more awesome explosions.

Favourite line 

Again it depends on whether you go for Seth Rogen’s brand of humour – and I generally do – but the gallery of the Skylark Show shouting “Eminem is gay on our show” worked for me. As did the “McConaughey goat fuck!” shout after hearing of another celeb story.

Those of a slightly more cerebral nature might enjoy the “How many times must the USA make the same mistakes? – As many as it takes” exchange.


‘Their Trip to North Korea Just Went South’ is pretty ho-hum but the alternative ‘From the Western Capitalist Pigs Who Brought You Bad Neighbours and This is the End’ is a nice touch.

Review by: Dan Roberts (@lasvegasWI) you can find more of Dan Roberts ramblings at DanRobertsRambling.

Still want more? Then check out the Exploding Helicopter podcast on The Interview. Available on iTunes, Podomatic, YourListen, Acast and Stitcher.

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