Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Interview

Film: The Interview

Starring: James Franco (This Is the End), Seth Rogen (Neighbors) and Randall Park (HBO's Veep)

Directors: Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen (This Is the End)

U.S. Release: December 25th, 2014 (Limited Release - Rated R)

Genre: Comedy

Runtime: 112 minutes

By now the enormous controversy surrounding the Sony hack and the theatrical release of The Interview is old news, therefore, catching the latest effort from the team that brought us This Is the End was right at the top of my Christmas morning wish list. Yet, rather than mocking themselves like they did in their 2013 end of the world comedy hit, the trio of James Franco, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg set this new film's focus on North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un. The rest is about as crazy and ridiculous as one might expect.

When producer Aaron Rapaport (Rogen) decides that he wants the face of his news show, David Skylark (Franco), to deliver more respectable news stories, the duo end up landing a coveted face-to-face interview with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un (Randall Park). After news of the upcoming interview begins to spread, Aaron and David are approached by the CIA to assassinate the U.S. enemy. However, with these two dimwits as the mission's only hope of success, a disaster is all but inevitable.

After the entire circus surrounding The Interview's release, needless to say, Sony Pictures must be thrilled over the publicity its film has received. And now that I've finally viewed the highly anticipated comedy with my own two eyes, this cash cow is a major letdown on just about every level imaginable. Outside of a sluggish second half that's beyond far-fetched and over the top, The Interview is barely anything more than a tiresome compilation of "dick" jokes and Lord of the Rings references. The film's R-rating is earned solely through raunchy humor that is neither clever nor developed. James Franco constantly spews such ridiculous nonsense, hence,  those rare instances where he actually makes a comical retort are quickly squandered by his next rapid fire of  clear "misses". Randall Park has a few shining moments as Kim Jong-un, but still he and Seth Rogen are hardly bright spots to the film, making The Interview one of 2014's biggest comedy duds.

In fairness, The Interview is a tale of two halves. The first is an engaging precursor which does a commendable job of setting up an abomination of a second portion. And since this Christmas movie theaters are packed with plenty of other prominent titles to choose from, I highly suggest picking something different. But if you're desperately seeking a legitimate source of laughs, then Chris Rock's Top Five would be a much better option. Or if an Oscar-bound drama could do the trick, then I'd highly recommend checking out either Wild or The Imitation Game.

There's no doubt that the media hype circulating The Interview will drive audiences to the limited number of theaters releasing the film as well as the streaming options all over the internet. Sony Pictures is in for a huge payday with this one. However, you'd be better served skipping on this over-extended and minimally funny effort from a usually reliable team of comedians and looking elsewhere for your holiday cheer.

Stars: 1 and a half stars out of 4

Grade: C-

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