The Interview (2014)

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There are groups of people in this world that would always prevent a film like The Interview succeeding – there will always be detractors to this type of humor, or to the stars of this film, or to the subject matter. However, I stand firmly on the side of the divide that really looks forward to films like this, and I have to say, I wasn’t that disappointed.

I should start by saying there are a very many things in cinema that I adore. Two of them were in this film – James Franco, and controversy. I know that James Franco has become the punching bag for many people who dislike his attempts at achieving everything and choose to see him as an arrogant, pompous hipster idol. To me, I don’t see him as someone who tries to hard, I see him as a very talented actor and a very charming comedic performer, but also one that can do drama equally well. To me, personally, I have never really seen a James Franco performance that I didn’t at least partially like. He has a very strange aura about him, and his style of acting is unconventional, and as we know with cinema, anything slightly different is automatically unfamiliar, and then of course not good, and a continuance of that trait can lead to one being classified as arrogant or a bad performer. The Interview offers another side to Franco, and while it may not be his best performance, or one that shows the depth of his acting, it certainly is a very different performance, and in a way, a very good one. However, let me just say that if James Franco is remembered for this film, it won’t be because of his performance.

However, enough with the James Franco praise. Acting opposite him is an actor I am not quite as endeared towards. Seth Rogen is a fine comedian – I may not be too impressed with his acting, but films like This Is the End and Neighbours brought out a new level of acting in him, and hopefully he continues to evolve to a multidimensional actor. Here he gives the better of the two lead performances, and he is the more likable of the protagonists by far. He is the one we all can relate to. His performance, much like Franco’s, isn’t set to become iconic, but this film surely will.

Of course, this film has a great supporting cast, and I won’t go into details over the wonderful cameo appearances, but one performer I will single out is Randall Park, who gives a truly brilliant performance as Kim Jong-Un. Man, does it take courage to do what Park did here by portraying the leader as a shy milquetoast with a mean streak. Park is going to be a great star, with this and his ABC show putting him squarely in the middle of showbusiness. Diana Bang rounds out the cast as the steadfast and fiery female commander who forms a friendship, and then later, a romance, with Rogen’s character (because, you know, every comedy film has to have romance, right? Cliche…)

If there was a prize for dancing around an issue, I would be the world tap champion, because I have been mulling over the thought of how I could possibly approach the central issue of The Interview. I don’t want to write a thesis about world policy or terrorism or possible nuclear war, but it is wrong to not acknowledge why this film is certainly going to remain in the public consciousness for years…

…ladies and gentleman, it was this film that nearly lead the world to nuclear war. I won’t take sides here, because politically that’s a very slippery slope, and I won’t make my opinion on this film as a political statement known…because I don’t really have one. Instead, I do have some thoughts about the controversy surrounding this film – there is absolutely no such thing as bad publicity, and I am not going to even begin implying that the infamous Sony hack and subsequent threats of attack was a publicity stunt to promote this film. However, the film and those involved with it made the absolute best use of the controversy, and what could’ve been a forgettable, average comedy turned into the must-see movie event of the year. People felt less like they were relaxing and watching a film, and instead felt that bit of guilt, thinking “we shouldn’t really be watching this” – for once, we were little children again, sneaking on the age restricted action film or raunchy comedy, knowing very well we aren’t supposed to be watching this. It would have been so easy for Sony to just lock this film away, never letting it see the light of day, and allowing it to become known as a “banned film” or a “lost film”, and then some dedicated cinephiles finally manage to find it decades from now. That would’ve created some great legends around the film…but Sony and the filmmakers chose to take the threats on the chin and release the film anyway – and that was a gutsy move certainly.

Of course, on a purely cinematic level, The Interview is a high-concept comedy that manages to reach its goals, but it just isn’t as brilliant as other offerings from the group. Instead, it is a fun and gory comedy that has a lot of heart to it and an interesting premise. It most certainly exceeded my expectations, but that doesn’t mean I loved it. In fact, I had very many issues with it, but none that I will really indulge right now. The Interview…well, it certainly deserves to be remembered. Kudos to Rogen, Goldberg and Franco for making something so audacious, and to Sony for actually showing the people who threatened to cause trouble over the film that their worries were unfounded, and there is no better example of someone using the old-fashioned and very true cliche of “its just a movie”. For pure audacity and chutzpah, and also for being quite a fun film, I have to give it praise. Without the controversy, this film would’ve been in a much worse position, and if making a film that almost causes war and gets you banned from an entire country isn’t the sign of a dedicated filmmaker, then what is?

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