Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, USA, 2014, 112 min.
The Interview is a funny film. In Seth Rogen’s and Evan Goldberg’s second directorial outing they tell the story of a hapless TV host (James Franco) and his producer (Rogen) getting the chance to conduct the interview of the lifetime.
Aaron Rapaport produces Skylark Tonight, hosted by his friend Dave Skylark. Their typical lineup includes vapid celebrity-worship programming, but Aaron yearns for something more. After finding that Kim Jong-Un, the leader of North Korea, is a huge fan of their show, Aaron manages to land the titular interview with the controversial dictator.
It comes at a particularly fitting time, as the fictionalized Kim Jong-Un is acting particularly aggressive towards the US. Everyone is dying to talk to him, and suddenly Skylark Tonight has a chance to do something really noteworthy. The CIA is also particularly interested in the interview, and convince the two protagonists to attempt to assassinate the dictator.
What follows is a well-written tale of friendship, journalism, mixed allegiances and broad-but-funny humor. The preposterous plot works because the two directors have the talent to keep things moving and not let them get bogged down in international politics. They keep the story personal to the characters.
The North Korea and Kim Jong-Un pictured in the film are based on reality, but quickly turn into farce. For a film like this to work, you have to quickly establish that even though the story is based on real life, the events and characters are pure fiction.
That line could be tough to walk, but the film does it beautifully. I never once felt like I was too far from reality. Or too close. The tone is kept purely in a zone where the comedy works best. Just look at the laugh-out-loud Eminem scene for a great example of this.
There are some great jokes and dialog here. A lot of it feels ad-libbed, a skill that Rogen and Franco are really good at. And the supporting cast really helps. Everyone is having a great time, and that translates to the viewing audience.
Sure, some of the humor is a bit stupid but who cares? It’s all fast and light and lots of fun. And the story does have some interesting turns, especially in it’s (completely fictional) portrayal of Kim Jong-Un. That is a tough performance to make work well, but Randall Park brings much more to the role than you would expect.
Overall, The Interview is fun and innocent and undeserving of any controversy that it has caused. Seeing it with a crowd is the way to go. It’s a shame that people are going to be deprived of an experience so entertaining and uncomplicated. Maybe someday this grapefruit will be real.