An on-air confession from Eminem, a tiger attack and the chemistry of Mr. Rogen and Mr. Franco make for a surprisingly humorous first act of the most highly controversial film of this year. Even though much of its success is taken from the Streisand effect, the phenomenon associated with the success of a piece of a material based on an attempt to hide or censor a product, “The Interview” stills keeps the laughs rolling in for a good 60 of its 112 minute run time.
The film already holds the record for earning $15 million dollars in its first four days in release online, while earning only two million in theaters. It has now beat out such films in internet sales such as Arbitrage, Bachelorette and Snowpiercer, all which earned their grosses without being targeted by a national government.
Mr. Rogen and Mr. Franco always seem to work nicely off each other. Here, their banter takes on a new form. While in some cases ridiculous, the over the top performance from Mr. Franco feels at place in this satire and solidifies the intentions of the filmmakers.
After being looked down upon at a party by a journalist, Aaron (Mr. Rogen) decides his talk show needs more integrity and respectable interviews as opposed to the the celebrity guests who frequent the show. Dave (Mr. Franco), a character borrowed from most over-zealous news-related film satires over the past fifteen years, hosts the talk show and agrees (mostly) with Aaron’s idea. A perfectly cast Lizzy Caplan as a CIA agent finds out, along with the rest of the world, that Dave has landed Kim Jong-un as his interviewee in three weeks and proposes an assassination of the leader.
While most of the film is predictable, it does provide some very heartfelt moments between Mr. Franco and Randall Park (playing the North Korean leader.) Mr. Park alone could be the reason to seek out this outrageous comedy. His portrayal of Kim Jong-un in the first half of the film scores on levels of empathy, hysterics and most of all, believability.
Then, the second half happens. By this time in the film, the movie’s tone has shifted dramatically and the reason North Korea has weighed in on the film becomes apparent. Moment after moment, the humor is slowly stripped back and the movie becomes reliant on disgusting gags.
Of course, there are moments in this film where art imitates life. The irony towards the end of the film, though splattered into the audience’s faces, provides insight into the conflict our countries suffer from and the integrity (or lack thereof) of journalism.
The film still suffers from a lack of theaters in its release. Though, it has now been released wider in Canada. As of December 28, 2014, the film is also available on ITunes. Yet, the controversy continues. On December 26th, Yoon Mi-rae has sued Sony Pictures for using her song Pay Day in the film without her permission.
The film is worth catching when it comes to a free platform such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. Though, Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Rogen achieved their goals of making a project that touched on elements in the zeitgeist while maintaining their usual gross out humor, the question lingers, was this the best combination for this material? Is it a bad film? No. Outside of the premise, were there risks taken? Not really. Was this all a huge publicity stunt to now make life imitate art? Who can say? Fans of Mr. Franco and Mr. Rogen’s probably won’t be too disappointed with the ridiculous turns the film makes. Everyone else will be done by the 60 minute mark.
“The Interview” is currently available On Demand and in select theaters.