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‘The Interview:’ Movie Review

I should be reading a comic right now or going to bed, but I just saw the new film from writer/directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. The same team that brought you This is the End, Pineapple Express, and Superbad. (Though not officially one of their films, Neighbors was extremely funny.) All hilarious movies. Unless you’re deaf to the world around you, you’ve heard of their newest outing, The Interview, a studio comedy that has accidentally found itself becoming a beacon for the Second Amendment, a cultural phenomenon, rising to the ranks of folk hero cult status, which it most likely wouldn’t have received otherwise. But, as we sat in the local, indie theatre (Yo, Cinefamily!), the energy in the room was palpable, curiosity was high, and, once the film started, no one stopped laughing. So, maybe it would have reached some of those levels. This was probably my favorite comedy experience in a theatre since watching Young Frankenstein in a room full of fans. Everybody knew what they wanted, and they got it. Everyone in that theatre simply connected as a community and found synchronicity.

I’m not going to talk about the Sony hack, North Korea, or the major theatre chains. Go and check out CNN.com, if you want that. The movie should stand on its own without all of the extra hullabaloo, and it does.

In the most basic terms, the film is about two hapless, bumbling, potential FBI agents who are sent to Russia as decoys to . . . wait, wait – that’s Spies Like Us, another completely ridiculous, but absolutely hilarious, film dealing with our super power enemies of the time. The Interview is similar in its basic nature (though with a lot more vulgarity and violence). Here, our two hapless agents of freedom are journalists working on a celebrity style E! show. Looking for a touch of integrity, they land an interview with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un who happens to be a huge fan of their show. Our two hapless heroes are then easily coerced by the US Government to assassinate Un instead. Some have found this premise to be in bad taste . . . but they thought that before the movie was even released. I think it’s in bad taste to let your nation starve to death. Some people deserve ridicule, satire, and mockery directed at them. I’ll come back to this.

The Interview succeeds at everything it sets out to do, making it one of the few perfect films out this year. The question is . . . do you enjoy this type of film? Well, do you? Because it’s the purest form of this genre style of comedy I’ve seen yet. It doesn’t fall short of what it shoots for on any level, and that’s how I judge my movies. That might prompt someone to say, “They didn’t shoot very high, did they?” I say this: It takes genius to make stupid work at this level of excellence. To make idiocy look this ingenious, it takes some really talented people. There is intelligence at work behind the low brow. This is a well-crafted comedy. And, Rogen and Goldberg have done it over and over again with their films. Here, they even bring back the same composer, cinematographer, and editor they worked with on This is the End. Everyone brings a big budget, cinematic feel to the film that works in wonderful contrast to the lowbrow lunacy that transpires.

James Franco is outrageous as the celebrity host, and Seth Rogen, as his producer, plays the straight man to hilarious effect – always suffering because of Franco’s ineptitude, which he wears so well. Together, they form Voltron. Seriously, they’ve worked together for so long now, they feel like they should share the same limbs, that’s how natural they are as a comedic duo. Lizzy Caplan gets some room to be very funny. Big credit goes to Randall Park who plays Kim Jong-Un with more charisma than the actual Supreme Leader deserves. Park is spot on hysterical, never stooping to play a simple caricature of the Leader. He gets to spring from coolest friend on the planet, to malevolent dictator, to weepy man child in the breadth of a scene. He gives Un more of a soul than the Prez of North Korea deserves to have. It’s riotous and a little heartbreaking witnessing his final moments on screen – that’s a victory deserving of attention. Park’s look alone deserves an Oscar nomination. (He also voiced Kim Jong-Un in an episode of Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken, for the trivia junkies out there.)

All in all, The Interview is cool, crass, outrageous, childish, and completely confident in being all those things and, in turn, is absolutely hilarious. It’s playing at select theatres across the nation (Cinefamily and Laemmle for sure in Los Angeles) and is available on VOD (Video on Demand!) for anyone wanting to avoid going out in the snow back home.