Film Review: The Interview (MA15+) (USA, 2014)

theinterview

At this year’s Golden Globes, hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey took aim at a little movie called The Interview during their anticipated opening monologue. And it sums up the lifespan of the film to date pretty well:

“The biggest story in Hollywood this year was when North Korea threatened an attack if Sony Pictures released The Interview, forcing us all to pretend we wanted to see it… North Korea referred to The Interview as ‘absolutely intolerable’ and ‘a wanton act of terror’. Even more amazing? Not the worst review the movie got.”

Yes, the most controversial film in recent memory is a little comedy starring buddies Seth Rogen and James Franco, co-directed by Rogen and regular collaborator Evan Goldberg (This is the End). So “controversial” that movie cinemas in the USA refused to screen the film on its original release of Christmas Day after receiving a barrage of death threats. But, after much back and forth, the film did see a release in limited cinemas and on Video-on-Demand (VOD), ensuring that anyone who wanted to see the film, could. And now it’s getting its official Australian release.

So, was the film worth all the hoopla? Well, not really. This is the same sort of shtick you’ve seen from these guys before, just wrapped up in a different sized vest. It’s predictable, a lot of the jokes are well worn and they’ve certainly done better. But is it funny? Yes! This isn’t a piece of art, and it is very… very silly. But it is funny. Go in with the low expectations that the aforementioned bad reviews have provided and you’ll walk out with a smile on your face. But what do you expect from a movie from the guys who brought you This is the End? This isn’t a movie to make you think. It’s a movie to make you laugh and/or gross you out with weed/butt jokes.

For those who have been living under a rock, the basic premise of the film is that after Television presenter Dave Skylark (Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport get the chance to interview North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, they are recruited by the CIA to “take him out”. And that’s really all there is to it. The Skylark character is a particular stroke of genius, and the early scenes of him on the set of his show are hilarious. Rob Lowe has a brilliant cameo, which you may have seen in the trailers, and I won’t spoil some of the other moments that are often hilarious. These guys know how to do a great cameo (Channing Tatum in This is the End? Priceless).

There are scenes between Skylark and Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) which are entertaining too, and though the friends-not friends-friends again dynamic between our two leads (and Jong-un, apparently) has been done so many times now, it remains enjoyable and it’s easy to watch. Lizzy Caplan has a couple of great moments too as Agent Lacey. One thing I do have to mention though is that the film is actually more violent than I expected – and there are a few excellent action sequences that sneak their way in, especially towards the end. So there’s that.

With The Interview you know what you’re getting before you walk into a cinema. A silly comedy with actors who generally make pretty silly movies when they work together. But from This is the End to Pineapple Express, they are almost always a fun time. And this film is no exception. It’s not the best comedy of the year, and it certainly wasn’t worth North Korea’s time to make such a big deal about it, but it’s entertaining. And so it delivers exactly what it set out to achieve. And is there anything wrong with that? Absolutely not.

Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

The Interview was released in Australian cinemas today.