A Review Of The Film "The Interview" By Seth Rogen And Evan Goldberg Movie Review Samples
The second directorial work of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg managed to gain fame as the most controversial film of the year in a short period of time. The film about a flamboyant trashy TV show host, his "aspire to be a serious journalist" producer and their attempt to assassinate the world's most hated dictator, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, had been talked about long before it was shown on a silver screen. Claimed to be an American propaganda, the idea of the film was strongly criticized by North Korean government, that subsequently threatened the U.S. to "take measures" if the project isn't taken down. At first, Sony took an unprecedented decision to cancel the release date due to threats of hackers that attacked the company's servers, to perform terrorist attacks "wherever the film will be shown", and instead broadcast it in Internet. Then, infuriated fans and "freedom of speech" activist attacked the film page in the IMDB database, on which one could observe blown-up 10-point ratings for several days. After receiving a lot of criticism for their actions, the company returned the film to theaters; however, the main emphasis remained on online audience. "The Interview" switched from an ordinary "adult" comedy to a big deal, a symbol of freedom of speech and other principles of democracy in one day.
Since the genre of the film is satirical political comedy, I expect it to be funny, smart, controversial, contain provocative elements and political satire both attacking North Korean and American political actions and behaviors. As the film takes place in North Korea, and the main plot line is based on main characters' attempts to assassinate the country's dictator, it is expected to give the viewer some understanding of the reasons behind such a decision and somehow in-depth portrayal of the regime and why it should be overthrown. General expectation for a good film would be consistent, substantial plot, well-written characters and good acting that keeps the viewer's attention throughout the movie.
Sadly, the weakest link in all the buzz surrounding "The Interview" was the quality of the film itself. The first part of the movie, however, does not spell trouble, and shows quite expected setup for filmmakers in which humor is generated by numerous cultural references and bright cameos. The interview with Eminem, that reveals some shocking details of his life, sets a very cheerful tone to the film. Rogen and Goldberg already had an experience of successfully making fun of celebrities from their directorial debut This Is The End, largely because healthy self-irony is always commendable. "The Interview" also has a couple of amusing cameos, including appearances of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Rob Lowe - and these are the moments that, no doubt, can be considered successful. Rogen and Franco play longtime friends and colleagues that perfectly complement each other: the first - the charismatic host of the popular TV show, the second - his producer. In pursuit of "more serious" journalism "buddies" send a request for an interview with the North Korean leader, who turns out to be a big fan of their show. But unexpectedly CIA interferes and plans to use journalists in their mission of Kim Jong-un elimination after North Korea launches another missile.
Actually, those are the desperate attempts to assassinate North Korean leader filmed in the "two idiots signed up for a work they can not handle," style that we are to observe the remaining time. Do not rely on some delicate political satire - it is simply not there. The jokes are mostly simple in nature - typical for the R-comedy dialogues and "physical" sense of humor, well-played, but boring at times, especially for such a long runtime. Rogen and Goldberg (and screenwriter Dan Sterling, who previously worker for television and predictably has "South Park" in his filmography) were wrong only about the dose. In this film, sometimes very ingenious and often hysterically funny, everything is just too much. Ten jokes about the anus could be fine, but a hundred? One joke about a puppy, why not, but ten? In the relaxation which actors ooze in the frame - no one you will tell you it's too much when everybody on set are friends, and you are the director and producer - has its own charm, but it wears off in the long runtime of the movie. When the first hour is so much funnier than the second, it is sure sign that the film has editing problems. Franco's antics get tiresome; jokes repeat themselves for the third time. And most importantly - in the absurdist humor emerges bitterness that instantly sabotages the whole project. The plot of the film that claims to be provocative turns out to be very simple and has more in common with “frat-humor” comedies than political satire. We see the classic bromance twice, first time with Aaron and Dave, second with Dave and Kim Jong-un in which one friend is a troublemaker and another a trouble solver. We see the villain that seems to be good, but turns out to be bad and mischievous; and lastly we see attractive smart women that turn out to be not that smart in the end and whose characters are inconsistent and underdeveloped. It could be a script for any other Seth Rogen comedy, this time with “Korean tough”.
As for its provocative controversial component, there is nothing to write home about, no revelations, instead we are left with a very straight allegations that "people are starving." Film creators decided not to dig further than fake shops and fake fat children, there was barely any mention of concentration camps or any other elements of North Korean internal policy. The viewer wouldn't feel as if he visited North Korea after watching the film, as there is basically no North Korea shown in it. One can, of course, endlessly enjoy genuine screen chemistry between the friends, but it's hard to overlook the menacing narcissism and over the top self-admiration. Rogen and Franco proudly throw themselves into the breach, leaving aside all the support cast. The appearance of Lizzy Caplan in a low cut blouse and eyeglasses is initially encouraging, but not for a long time. Side characters are outrageously weakly-written for the potential they have. And as for Korean characters, they are all expectedly caricatured.
The most saddening thing about the film is the misuse of talent. While Rogen keeps playing the same "boring nerd" from movie to movie without managing not to change his facial expression throughout the film, other cast members are surprisingly good. Even though Franco's antics get old by the end of the film, one cannot deny he proved to be a good comedian. He plays an overly narcissistic not-so-smart TV star so believably, that one might start hating him by the end of the film. But despite the poorly written characters, the most credit for acting should be given to the support cast members Randall Park and Diana Bang. Park manages to develop his character in restraining frames of the weak screenplay. While being a caricature, he brings dimension to his character, showing impressive acting abilities. It seems that Diana Bang, who played an attractive female Korean officer, tricked directors and instead of playing a sexy dominatrix, made her character a real person despite all directors' attempts to portray women exclusively as sexual objects and cutting them off when the sex value expired, as they did in case of Caplan. In general, the cast seems appropriate except for Rogen who should have stuck to directing as his acting abilities cannot measure up to those of the support cast members. If he left acting to others, it would be possible to find and actor who would put more effort to portraying one of the main protagonists, showing the struggle of the real journalist and producer stuck in a trashy celebrity talk show. Unfortunately, even the relatively decent cast doesn't seem to be enough to bring life in the film as the screenplay lacks substance and depth.
In the Sasha Baron Cohen's "The Dictator" with many absurd moments, the screenwriter and director found place for political satire and much more: there was a main character, there were serious satire "attacks" against US security services, the ones against liberals and it all went well, despite the fact that the film never pretended to look serious. In the case of "The Interview" everything seems much simpler. There is a creeping feeling that talented filmmakers, after their successful directorial debut took up the topic that they cannot handle yet. And the justification "well, this is just a comedy" doesn't work as the film was made about the real country with its real dictator, but hit only the high points not touching any deep topics and seems to be just a decoration for a set of mediocre comedy sketches. At the same time it must be said, that if it was not for the hype that surrounded the film and its release in theaters, the expectations might have been different and the film would have been seen by his target audience for what it was - a dark caricature comedy with "frat"-level humor and not the political satire that might unleash the World War III.