DVD: Interview, The (2014)

February 21, 2015 | By


Interview2014_poster_ssFilm: Weak

Transfer:  Excellent

Extras: n/a

Label: Sony

Region: 1 (NTSC)

Released:  February 17, 2015

Genre:  Comedy

Synopsis: A tabloid talk show host and his bromatic producer are requested by the CIA to kill their plum interview subject, North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong-un.

Special Features:  Audio Commentary Track with co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg/ Short: “Naked and Afraid” (13:49)




After the ridiculous hype and controversies transformed Seth Rogan’s comedy of two bumbling morons ‘requested’ by the CIA to assassinate North Korea’s Dear Leader #3, Kim Jong-un, into a symbol of free artistic speech – U.S. audiences flocked to see the released / withheld / limited release / digitally distributed film like some act of large-scale defiance, which must have made Sony giggle for a few days before the reviews emerged – what finally arrives on video is a goofball comedy written from the mindset of a 13 year old kid obsessed with anus jokes and the odor of stale undergarments after a night of booty activities.

Neither a disaster nor a maligned comedic masterpiece of political satire, The Interview offers a few good laughs, and for its first third, it manages to be marginally entertaining, but it becomes clear that within its nearly 2 hour running time neither star / co-director / co-writer Rogan, nor co-director / co-writer Evan Goldberg, nor co-writer Dan Sterling are interested in offering anything more clever than scenarios designed for a rectal-related punchline.

In one elaborate sequence, news producer Aaron Rapaport (Rogan), is confronted by a large tiger while retrieving a ribbed canister containing the two strips of poison needed to kill Dear Leader #3. Sent zippy-fast via drone by the CIA handlers, Rappaport must hide the vessel in the only pocket capable of widening to accommodate such a sturdy vessel – his ass – to ensure the rapidly advancing North Korean guards don’t discover the CIA’s secret plan.

Arrested and brought back to the partitioned room shared with Dave Skylark (James Franco), Rappaport is strip-searched, but amazingly, the screenwriters don’t have the super-suspicious soldiers bothering with a body cavity search because the sequence needs to end with Rapaport washing the extracted canister, removing the contents, and have Skylark hold up the container and react with awe at his colleague’s stamina, adding ‘You should see a proctologist when we get back.’

It’s a sequence that’s indicative of the filler material which bloats what should’ve been a 95 min. sophomoric comedy, and delays the inevitable conclusion where the two buddies, deeply involved in a bromance, finally partake in snuffing out the Dear Leader… which they actually don’t.

The ire of building a comedy in which a sitting despotic leader is assassinated onscreen is pretty brazen – it’s not outrageous to suggest had the film’s focus been the murder of a U.S. President, there would’ve been high outrage on this side of the pond. Wait a minute: that already happened in the faux documentary Death of a President (2006), and was almost followed at the beginning of the WWII propaganda film Man Hunt (1941), in which a big game hunter sneaks into Nazi Germany and attempts to sniper-shoot Adolph Hitler.

When Kim is killed, it’s not by the bromantic duo as many outraged / misinformed media reports seemed to state, but the North Korean love interest Sook (Diana Bang), who launches the deadly artillery from a Stalin-era tank that strikes Kim’s helicopter, and puts the film into brief slo-mo as the leader is incinerated. The details may have been toned down in the final edit, but it’s clear he’s being BBQ’d before the helicopter crashes and burns.

Now, one could argue it’s a scene that generates more sympathy for Kim: the character with the most depth and the most compelling figure is Kim, as played by Randall Park. He’s a sympathetic figure because he’s comprised of three parts – a lonely boy who likes marguaritas and Katy Perry’s “Firework”; a power hungry leader as manipulative as his old, domineering dad; and a confused soul who’d probably be happier being himself somewhere in a tony European ski town. Seeing the lone character that’s not an idiot within an idiotic film die slowly is marginally sad, but it’s not the film’s most grating, offensive element.

The Interview’s flaws lie in its design to remain a container for ass, cum, booty, and bromance jokes, and allowing Franco to play Skylark as a one-note character we wish would get shot by the film’s midpoint. Maybe not dead, but incapacitated, so there’s less dialogue and broad had gestures (which are part of the TV host’s presentation schtick). While Skylark bromatically woos Kim, Rapaport romantically woos Sook, and the culmination from those relationships are some surprisingly gory moments where a Kim guard has his head blown off, and Rapaport has two fingers chomped off by a defensive TV technician. It’s as though Rogan & Co. were trying to layer the film with Tarantino shocks, but they’re ultimately part of the film’s unstable DNA that makes it neither full satire, barely political commentary, nor an accessible comedy for the bonehead class.

It’s a bloated, indulgent, frat joke that oddly benefits from great production values – beautiful sets, sharp editing, a lovely End Title sequence, and Brandon Trost’s  cinematography. This is a gorgeous film with warm earth tones, and if anyone manages to benefit from their involvement with The Interview, it’s the cinematographer, actor Randall Park, and composer Henry Jackman, who wrote an ebullient orchestral score.

Sony’s DVD includes a director commentary track plus a spoof short, but The Interview is really a film whose value is ephemeral, giving those who experienced it for 112 mins. some boasting cred (‘You saw it?’) until it fades as The Movie that Didn’t Deserve All That Hype, and a footnote to the Great Sony Hacking Scandal of 2014 that was likely perpetrated by pissed-off, studio employees masquerading as crusading North Korean hackers.



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



External References:
Editor’s BlogIMDB  —  Soundtrack Album — Composer Filmography
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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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