Thursday, December 25, 2014
The Interview Review
It's a Christmas miracle!
So... The Interview was released. If you've been following the news, then you should probably be aware of just how chaotic the controversy surrounding this movie is. Will it be released? How will it be released? Is the controversy all a publicity stunt? Why are we getting worked up so much about this movie? All of these questions have been tossed around and now with a surprise online release of the movie as well as a limited theatrical release, The Interview can now be witnessed to the American public. Suck it North Korea! Still, with the dust now settling over the controversy that this movie set up, it's time for us to actually examine this movie for what its worth.
Before we even begin, we kind of do need to analyze the controversy that this movie created, mainly in its depiction of North Korea and Kim Jong Un. In short, North Korea is furious over the fact that this movie portrays their country as a brainwashed dictatorship led by Kim Jong Un, who is also portrayed as weak, possibly gay, and eventually desecrated in an undignified way. I won't spoil how, but it involves Kay Perry's song "Firework". And yes, I can understand why North Korea is absolutely livid that this movie exists and that it was released. It portrays their leader in a very negative light and makes him look like a joke, a villain, and a douchebag all in one. That being said, it's not like Seth Rogen and James Franco made this movie just to make fun of someone they didn't like. This movie exists because Kim Jong Un really is a villain and most of these allegations are true. The accusations made in this movie may be exaggerated but they're not false. Franco and Rogen are stating what they see as obvious and what other people are afraid to say. No one would globally say that Kim Jong Un is a villain, so when something as big and public as this movie is released, it means something. North Korea may view it as negative propaganda, but there's a grain of truth to all of the points that are brought up in this movie.
THAT BEING SAID, wow this is such a bro movie. For those of you that are unaware, a bro movie is pretty much a movie where the main characters are guys doing guy things, or at least what people think guys do. This movie has hookers, basketball, lots of cocaine, ecstasy, honeypotting (which apparently exists in this movie), and guys talking about "pulling out". 70% of this movie is a bro movie. It has James Franco and Seth Rogen doing stupid guy things with Kim Jong Un joining in on doing stupid bro things. I'm not entirely sure if the juxtaposition works though. In some scenes you have a good political thriller that keeps you glued to the screen, only for it to be immediately followed up by James Franco saying or doing something stupid to remind us that this is an American comedy. Insert coke, shoving things up people's asses, and stank dick references here.
To be honest, I'm not sure this movie works half of the time. That could really all be attributed to its lead actors. Whenever Seth Rogen has jokes and relevant plot points, I feel that he does a great job and the jokes are equally as funny. There's a great bit towards the end of the movie that had me laughing my ass off, but I won't spoil that here. On the other hand, James Franco is your stereotypical dumb American. He's a news reporter that most interviews celebrities about worthless things that no human should ever care about. So whenever he's in North Korea, he's shown as being an ignorant and dumb American. I rarely laughed at him throughout the movie's run. He was usually just the set up to the punchline.
And yet I feel James Franco gave a great performance here when he wasn't being a dumb American. When he was doing stupid shit like complaining about his stank dick (a phrase I never want to hear again in my life), I groaned and rolled my eyes at him. When he was in serious scenes and was clearly out of his depth, that's when he really began to shine for me. By the time he actually sat down and interviewed Kim Jong Un, I felt that he was legitimately great. He was able to create a great scene and a great interview that I thought was hilarious, sad, and very fitting for what this movie was trying to do. It's a great scene that's worth the price of admission alone.
The sets in particular deserve mention too. I know that I normally don't talk about sets and set design, but there was just something about how this movie looked and where everything took place that really sold home the idea that these guys were in North Korea. The structures were big, but empty. The colors were usually cold and metallic and very square. I can't explain why, but the movie just looked impressive, even though it really hasn't done anything outside of the box.
I think it has to do with the colors though. This entire movie has a color palette of gray, brown, and dark green while everyone's in North Korea. In America though, all of the colors pop. There are deep blues, bright reds, purples, and just a whole gaggle of colors that stimulate the eyes. North Korea just looks plain and simple, but in an uninviting way. Those colors in particular makes Franco stand out, almost always wearing bright and colorful clothes to distinguish himself from the blandness of North Korea. It's a subtle touch, but definitely a noticeable one.
I'm actually even surprised to say at how likable Kim Jong Un is in the movie. He's built up as being this imposing and threatening man, but when we finally meet him, he just doesn't seem to be real. He seems like a pretty cool guy truth be told, but then we start to ask ourselves if this is the real Kim Jong Un, or just the version that he wants to be shown to Franco and Rogen. He shares a lot of personal facts about himself with Franco, eventually forming a bromance with him, but would you trust a guy who just magically has a parade of strippers come out of nowhere to hang with him and his American guest? After all, this guy is a master manipulator. When we do see his true colors, it has us ask ourselves how much we really know about the man and what he's really like. Don't get me wrong, in real life Kim Jon Un is a joke and tyrant, but the movie makes him a much more interesting and nearly sympathetic character.
So at the end of the day, we have an incredibly controversial movie that is somewhat brilliant for the balls it has and its portrayal of North Korea, mixed with all of the tropes that you usually get with Seth Rogen and James Franco. James Franco is a stoner, an idiot, and the worst aspects of America all rolled into one. Seth Rogen is being the smart stick in the mud adult that we saw in Neighbors. Both of these guys also throw out some low jokes that are just a little groan worthy, like talking incessantly about honeypotting and dick jokes. Just be aware that even though the setting and the premise may be different, it's still Seth Rogen and James Franco at heart.
And yet, I like this movie. I really liked this movie. I thought that it was a breath a fresh air in a season that's mostly filled with Oscar contenders a d big budget family movies. Sometimes, it's good to have the occasional movie that throws out dick jokes and isn't the smartest thing in existence. Sometimes, we just need to watch a movie where America wins and everybody has a good time in the end. It's an interesting piece to watch in our current political position, and I'm sure that later on down the road this will be an entertaining movie to watch to learn about North Korea and its relationship with the U.S. Just with a lot of dumb jokes thrown in.
As I'm sure I've said before, reviewing comedies are always tricky because you don't want to spoil all of the gags and jokes. Even though the material did grate on me after a while, I still laughed more often than I thought. I still had a fun time watching The Interview. It's not going to go down as a comedy legend, but it's a fun romp through North Korea that we almost never got. It's a fun little gift that we got for Christmas, and even though it may not be for everyone, you should at least give it a try sometime soon. It's available online to rent and has a very limited theatrical run, so give it a shot. Chances are, you won't regret it.