The Interview

Directed By: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg

Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Lizzy Caplan, and Randall Park

I'm sure there are some patriots out there celebrating our recent victory over terrorists trying to keep us from watching The Interview.  Well, I'm not one of them.  Though I appreciate their sentiments, I'm of a different mindset.  Simply put, Sony fucked up.  First of all, the company opted to distribute a film that casually jokes about killing an actual head of state.  This isn't Olympus Has Fallen or White House Down with some fictional politician.  This is the real deal.  It's a colossally stupid premise for a film.  Making The Interview was politically unwise and rocks the studio’s boat unnecessarily.

The argument against my point above is the First Amendment.  To all the naysayers reading this, you're absolutely correct.  Sony has the right to distribute any film they want.  With freedom of speech, however, common sense dictates that words have consequences.  As a corporation reaching out to millions of consumers, Sony has a responsibility to be prepared for those consequences, especially when they put out a product like The Interview that provokes strong responses from hostile individuals and/or nations.  That's why they should have had the appropriate security in place for their data and their servers to prevent those individuals whom they are agitating from rocking the boat even further.  Additionally, one would think that a company that suffered a devastating breach of their customers' data not too long ago would have stepped up their security standards a notch or two.

Finally, Sony decided to kowtow to the North Korean hackers and their threats by pulling The Interview from its Christmas Day release.  While I think distributing a satire like this is a risky endeavor, it's even riskier for Sony to have cancelled its release.  No matter what nonsense a film like The Interview spews, the executives at Sony, the director, and the cast and crew are free to spew it.  It sets a horrendous precedent to willfully give up this right because some foreign entity says so.  It's a precedent that endangers more serious filmmakers who do have something audacious to say but may not have the means to deal with a situation of this nature.  All that being said, I do truly appreciate the sentiments of those aforementioned patriots.  I just don’t share them in quite the same way given all of Sony’s missteps.  Having now seen The Interview, I'm not so sure this was the best movie for which this kind of political firestorm is merited.

With the help of his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen), Dave Skylark (James Franco) has conquered the media landscape with his hit show Skylark Tonight.  His ratings go through the roof after Eminem embraces his gayness in an interview on the program one night.  Though he's feeling on top of the world, Dave soon learns that he's not king of all on the media landscape.  During an interview with Rob Lowe, his program is cut off for an announcement on North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) and his threat of nuclear warfare with the United States.  Disturbed by this, Dave does his research on the North Korean dictator and learns that Skylark Tonight is one of his favorite programs.

In this moment, Dave realizes that he has an opportunity to use his popularity for something more than just making an entertainment program.  He has an opportunity to make the news and to present meaningful information to his audience.  Dave instructs Aaron to get him an interview with Kim Jong-un.  To everyone's surprise he actually does.  Soon thereafter, Dave announces to the world that he's landed the first interview ever with the young dictator.  Naturally, there are plenty of critics who publicly denounce this interview with the so-called master manipulator of the media.  However, there are some supporters, namely the CIA's Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan).  She honeypots Dave and Aaron into becoming her dung beetle and aardvark.  She convinces them to assassinate Kim Jong-un for the CIA and for the greater good of America.

Setting aside the politics of The Interview, I must say that the film starts as one promising satire.  Once again capitalizing on their solid comedic chemistry, James Franco and Seth Rogen deliver plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.  I'm not sure whether Rogen is to Franco as Samwise is to Frodo or Gandalf is to Bilbo, but their pairing works.  With its commentary on infotainment, in fact, I initially thought this might end up being The Newsroom of raunchy comedies.  However, clocking in at 112 minutes, the film is a bit long for the genre.  As the runtime drags, the film quickly devolves from amusing social commentary to a poorly conceived gag reel on North Korea.

There are some things I absolutely love about The Interview.  When directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are firing on all cylinders, the film serves up some comedic gems.  Lines like "They hate us 'cause they ain't us" and "Peanut butter and jealous" left me cracking up.  I'm also a fan of all the Middle Earth references laced throughout the movie.  Given the release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies just last week, any mention of the precious is quite timely.  Finally, the film has Lizzy Caplan.  In a flick with plenty of over-the-top antics, her caustic wit helps to reign things in at times.  Enough said.

There are also things of which I’m not so fond in The Interview.  On a number of occasions in the film, Rogen and Goldberg mistake the disgusting for the amusing.  I've said on many occasions that they're not one and the same, and the two directors demonstrate this better than I could ever articulate it with some of their antics, particularly as they relate to the rectum.  Additionally, the film gradually becomes sillier and sillier.  As the clock ticks away, it diverges from serving up any meaningful commentary on North Korea with this silliness.  The strength of a good satire is its ability to stay on message.  Upon finishing The Interview, I wasn't entirely sure what that message is.

I have mixed feelings on The Interview.  At times, it delivers the comedic goods. At others, it plainly disappoints.  Outside of this, there's the political cloud hovering above all of this making me question whether this film was worth the storm of events it has set off.  As it stands, the answer is maybe not.  The Interview gets a 0.09% rating.  Have a few mango margaritas with this one.