Saturday, December 27, 2014
By Susan Granger
Despite cyber-warfare against Sony and terrorist threats from North Korea, the James Franco/Seth Rogen black comedy “The Interview” opened on Christmas Day in 331 independent theaters and earned more than $1 million. It was also available for rent or purchase on VOD.
That’s just the legal side. According to web calculations, it was pirated in digital format more than 200,000 times in the first 10 hours. After 20 hours, the illegal downloads topped 750,000—mainly overseas, since Sony did no worldwide release.
So what’s it all about? Sleazy TV interviewer Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his buddy, producer Aaron Rappaport (Seth Rogen), are tabloid journalists who specialize in celebrity interviews.
When these mega-morons learn that North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Un (Randall Park) is a fan of the show, they arrange an interview. “This will be as big as Frosty Nixon,” Dave enthuses.
That’s when they’re recruited by manipulative CIA agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) to use their visit to Pyongyang as an opportunity to assassinate the notoriously humorless, 31 year-old Supreme Leader.
Seth Rogen, who directed along with Evan Goldberg, is the straight man, while Franco overdoes his caricature of a dimwit TV host who is far more concerned with popularity than credibility.
Korean-American comedian Randall Park (HBO’s “Veep”) is audacious, his own show debuts in 2015. And Diana Bang scores as Sook, Kim’s duplicitous communications officer.
Opening with a sweet little North Korean girl singing about launching nuclear war against the United States, the raunchy, obviously collaborative screenplay was written by Dan Sterling (“The Daily Show,” “The Office,” “Girls”). It’s a provocative premise that’s never developed, so the farce fizzles.
Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” (1940), Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) and the creators of “South Park” have done political satire far better.
Bottom line: Despite innumerable “Lord of the Rings” references, repetitive poop/potty jokes prevail, as the absurd slob-comedy fails to live up to its hype.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Interview” is a silly, sloppy, sophomoric 4. To paraphrase Shakespeare, it’s much ado about very little.
( Editor’s Note: Westport resident Susan Granger grew up in Hollywood, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger at Mills College, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, she has been on radio/television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic for many years. See her reviews at www.susangranger.com.)
Posted 12/27/14 at 10:42 AM Permalink