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After all that fuss, The Interview turns out to be just ludicrous and puerile

Seth Rogen and James Franco in their assassination comedy The Interview

THE INTERVIEW:  What a wasted opportunity. Think of the fame that fell onto this film. Front page stories, editorials, even comments from the American president. The old-time movie promoters who couldn’t have matched half of this with their publicity stunts must be spinning in their graves. And now that it’s out of cancellation and all over the internet, both legally and not so much, what do we find? A ludicrous movie verging on offensive.

Yes, there are some funny scenes and some surprisingly direct critical comments about a repressive government.  But they’re sitting among banal jokes about rectums, dicks, women and celebrities. Nicki Minaj and Matthew McConaughey figure in a couple of cheap gags aimed at viewers who might mistake them as clever. One-liners fly everywhere as characters act kooky. 

 

Think of it as business as usual for Seth Rogen and his pal Evan Goldberg. The local boys-gone Hollywood thought up the story and directed the film (here in Vancouver with Robson Square standing in grey and severe as North Korea).  Rogen stars in it along with James Franco. Their style worked better in previous films because they were just a lark. This film reaches into serious issues.

Franco plays the smarmy host of a TV entertainment info show. He sends up of that kind of personality nicely (although over-the-top at times) and his celebrity interviews with Eminem and Rob Lowe are funny but very obvious.

Rogen plays his producer who aspires for a higher form of journalism and is offered a windfall. It seems that the “great leader” of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, is a fan of the show. They ask for an interview, an emissary, played by Vancouver comic Diana Bang, agrees to it and the CIA gets involved. They want the two to assassinate the saber-rattling tyrant.

A well-known story arc follows. Two pals find themselves in a strange land and are compelled to rise above their mundane characters. But first there are detours. Franco’s character bonds with Kim. They shoot hoops, ride a tank and find they both have daddy issues and a warm spot for a Katy Perry tune. Something has to burst the perception bubble.

Kim, played by Randall Park, gets a surprisingly soft interpretation. But there also many jokes about his body functions and his experiences with women. That material gets offensive. So, in a way, does the language throughout the film and the way some jokes are worked over so much they become belabored.

There’s a bizarre fantasy at work here and it’s not unique. Somewhere I’ve got an old paperback from the early 1950s entitled “I Killed Stalin”. The film is from the same wish-it-were-possible world and like the book will surely turn out to be just a relic. 2 out of 5

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