Review: The Interview (2014)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #699

Number of Views: One
Release Date: December 24, 2014
Sub-Genre: Political Comedy
Country of Origin: United States
Budget: $44,000,000
Box Office: $11,300,000
Running Time: 112 minutes
Director: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Producers: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver
Screenplay: Dan Sterling
Cinematography: Brandon Trost
Score: Henry Jackman
Editing: Zene Baker, Evan Henke
Studios: Point Grey Pictures, LStar Capital
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Stars: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, Randall Park, Diana Bang, Timothy Simons, Reese Alexander, Anders Holm, Charles Rahi Chun, Eminem, Rob Lowe, Bill Maher

Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫

[1] Lindsey Buckingham “Trouble”
[2] Henry Jackman “The Interview”
[3] Sister Nancy “Bam Bam”
[4] Katy Perry “Firework”

If you asked me to name two people whose heads I wish to bang together, I’d have my answer prepared before you even wrapped up the question. US President-Elect Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would sit less than pretty on top of the bill as the pair’s ongoing feud concerns me greatly. We all know Trump’s lips have a tendency of flapping in whichever direction the wind is facing as he continually tweets the first thing that pops into his head without considering the repercussions. If that’s how he gets his daily kicks, then he’s more than entitled to his views. However, when said insults are aimed at one of the most dangerous men on the planet, it becomes very much a matter of urgent public interest. I don’t pretend to be up on my politics; but have been quietly impressed by Trump since he gained power. Indeed, I highly doubt Hillary Clinton would have had such an impact on the economy. That being said, he does have something of a habit of being a loose cannon.

As for Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, well he’s hardly the innocent party here is he? Clearly suffering from a hefty bout of small man syndrome, this pint-sized peril has been responsible for all manner of vile treachery since his reign began, much of which has been aimed at his very own people. In 2013, Forbes named him the World’s 46th Most Powerful Person, and four years later, I’d imagine he’s nestled in the top ten, sandwiched between the Dalai Lama and Taylor Swift. Alas, with great power comes great responsibility, and the “little rocket man” as Donald affectionately refers to him only appears capable of looking out for number one. Again, I’m just going on a hunch here as I pay precious little attention to global news once politics are tossed into the agenda. That said, while so much of what is written is pomp and propaganda, I feel justified in my personal opinion that Kim Jong-un is “a bit of a wrong ‘un”. Evidently, two wrongs don’t always amount to a right.

Trump’s favorite trick is rattling his opponent’s cage at every turn. My concern is that every time he openly taunts his sworn enemy, Kim Jong-un’s already twitchy finger gets ever closer to that shiny red button and over seven billion people start shuffling rather uncomfortably in their seats. You see, while North Korea’s nuclear resources are a drop in the ocean compared to the US of A, that doesn’t mean that millions of innocent lives aren’t at risk, should shit eventually hit the fan mid-oscillation. I think it would be fair to say that both men have bloated egos and that doesn’t bode at all well when warheads are preferred to fisticuffs. 

To be fair, tensions were high well before Donald got involved. Indeed, relations have been particularly strained since 2014, when American-made political satire The Interview became hot topic of discussion, placing Kim Jong-un squarely in the kill zone. The North Korean government naturally took great exception to what they considered a blatant act of terrorism and threatened action, should the film ever make it to movie theaters. While their ultimatum led to delays and re-edits, it was slated for a Christmas release and gearing up for that when something not altogether unprecedented occurred. The computer systems of Sony Pictures Entertainment were hacked by the “Guardians of Peace,” a group with exclusive ties to the embittered party and terrorist attacks were hinted at in a manner some way from timid. That it appeared was that. Cinemas wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole for fear of repercussions and it was left to digital rentals to recoup its extortionate budget.

You’d have expected an audacious filmmaker of the Spike Lee strain to be the one “keeping it real” with a piece of art so potentially incendiary as this. But one glance at the promotional poster reveals two names I wouldn’t have guessed if they were sitting alongside me loading up the bong. Childhood buddies Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have collaborated a number of times since Knocked Up and Superbad double-teamed us all back in 2007. The fruits of their labor have culminated in the likes of This Is The End, The Night Before and jewel in their crown, Pineapple Express. Hell, they even had time to throw an access all areas Sausage Party for crissakes.

However, the thing that shines through in all their joint endeavors is the writing as their brand of slacker comedy is far more insightful than the endless dick and fart gags that populate the trailers. I originally thought it was Judd Apatow whose dick I had to tug most rigorously for a sub-genre that has provided no end of pleasure to me. However, while I’d still willingly buff up his bayonet, I reckon Rogen and Goldberg have earned themselves some knuckle play also. Fuck it, we may as well add James Franco to the roster, while I’ve got the wank mitten warmed up.

What can I say about Franco that wouldn’t entail revealing my secret man-crush to the masses? Got it – there aren’t a lot of actors who can make 127 Hours feel no more than 93 minutes. In Danny Boyle’s biographical survival feature, we were provided no choice but to hang with the Franco as he found himself wedged into a slot canyon. Ultimately, audiences stayed the course because they cared. I understand there are numerous haters out there who’d love nothing more than for a real-life boulder to crush him, and really, what’s up with that? Wouldn’t it make more sense to simply kiss his face and get it over with? Tell me you don’t find that playful twinkle in his eyes even vaguely disarming and I’ll cut myself a slice of humble pie right here and guzzle it down with a frown. And yes, I am rather fond of Your Highness.

While versatility has never been an issue for Franco, The Interview sees him operating from well and truly within his comfort zone. The character of talk show host, Dave Skylark, is effectively an extension of his very own persona and that means intimacy is a downright given. He and Rogen are the kind of dudes the term “spooning” was invented for and, though the latter is a smidgen less cozy in his skin, Franco could sell triffids to a florist if his life depended on it and would no doubt just as readily do it “for the lulls”. Every time Rogen puckers his asshole fretfully as a result of their collective stupidity, Franco’s the man with the lube and forceps. It just works. Thus, who better to play Skylark’s uptight producer Aaron Rapaport than his old buddy, old pal? Better yet, roll up a fat one, keep those cameras rolling and let these likely lads wing it. I just feel bad for the poor bastards stuck on editing duties. Good luck with that.

Dave Skylark is the kind of slim shady who’s just imitating, but by doing so he’s baiting the real slim shady to stop the hating and please stand up. Five minutes subjected to Skylark’s sneaky deeky line of questioning and Eminem’s all like “cue the slo-mo coz I’m a homo”. That is to say that his art of persuasion is simply amazing. Thanks solely to the Skylark charm, Rob Lowe no longer has to hold onto his toupée in a blizzard, yet not everyone is so quick to compliment him on these jobs well done.

Indeed, even as celebrations are going down at Skylark Tonight to mark its 1,000 episode milestone, the healthy competition are right up to their heinous humps in trash-talk. So what does a cool customer like Dave Skylark do when the foundations start to shake? Well that’s eggs Benedict on predictive text and elementary to the rest of us – he bats those long lashes at his decidedly anxious looking sidekick. You know – pretty please with little hash sprinkles. Works every last time.

It’s the rest of the statement that prises forth a bronze nugget in Aaron’s slacks and I’d imagine it to go something like this – “Pretty please with little hash sprinkles can we risk life, limb and liberty arranging a televised interview with the leader of North Korea? Should ruffle up some feathers and just think of the ratings; if nothing else they’ll receive a boost right? Granted, Kim Jong-un has been known to be a tad unpredictable from time to time and this route may well lead directly to global warfare and critical mass. But just think of how cool it will make us. Ooh, I just thought of something. Think of the chicks we can bang. Huh? You’re feeling it now ain’t cha? Bring it in big man, don’t hold out on me. Me so horny” or words to that effect I’d imagine. The bottom line is this – what Dave wants, Dave gets with only nominal protest – but Dave would be advised to be careful what he wishes for.

You see, while Kim Jong-un is positively elated to be meeting his Stateside idol and potential future spooning buddy for their scheduled tête-à-tête, his actions have been known to be somewhat unpredictable whenever the tick inside him starts to itch. Folk tend to forget that assassins can smile too and that’s desperate news if you’re unfortunate enough to have made the naughty list as the blackest hearts often hide behind the whitest veneers.

On face value, Dave could be about to land himself a brand new BFF, news that has his other mother brother Aaron squirming like an eel in a wok. How dare this infidel block the cock in such a manner? There’s bromance at stake, not to mention the fates of millions of decent, hard-working Americans. At times like these, it’s generally advisable to hit up the CIA for some helpful do’s and don’ts. You know – do assassinate a highly dangerous leader of men in his very own back yard and don’t even think of ballsing this up kiddo – that kind of spiel. Oh… and no pressure.

The burning question is – has Dave already got his cherry chapstick on? Actually, it currently appears to be whether or not Mr. Kim possesses an anus but the boys seem to have cleared that one up already and stumbled across some common ground in the process. It says a lot for their blossoming friendship when the conversation can shift from sphincters to Katy Perry in the time it takes to light a Catherine Wheel. Suddenly a hearty rendition of I Kissed A Cruel Dictator may well be on the cards and it doesn’t take a mastermind to suss out that Dave will like it. This is all well and good but, with the burden of expectation and a deadly transdermal strip gradually burning a hole in his trouser pocket, we could be set to hear this untamed lion roar. Quick Aaron, bang the hottest Asian you can get to persuading, then perhaps a little divine intervention wouldn’t go amiss. Remember, no pressure. We’ve been due another ice age anyways. PS: Kaboom!

The Interview is an incredibly bold piece of filmmaking and that word has been known to wear a T-shirt that states “I’m with stupid”. Let’s be frank and earnest shall we? This motion picture lit a firework or two all of its own and could have backfired in a manner most unthinkable, had Trump been tweeting that day. Three years later and it would appear that those pesky kids got away with it and I’d say that equates to hand-jobs all round, wouldn’t you? If Eminem was here now, he’d pull out of Stan to salute, I’m sure. And I’m equally certain that Lowe would offer a tip of the toupée in support. We came, we saw, we laughed from our bellies together and seeped a little pee in our shorts – but the most important thing is that we all made it back in one piece. Well, give or take.

Franco is in his absolute element here and, from my experience, when Franco’s in his element, we’re in our element too. Sometimes we desire only to throttle him but only ever with kindly palms as he means less harm than charm and is every bit as lucky. With whiny bitch duties falling to a predictably adorable Rogen, it’s left to Randall Park to hit the all-important sixer and he clears the stands with the kind of enthusiastic swing Babe Ruth would be proud of.

In the history of dicey career moves, his incandescent turn as the dumpy dictator is way up there in Gigli territory. But there’s no turkey time going on here. Just thanksgiving. One more thing Mr. Park before I wrap it in tinfoil – Slim Shady has requested that I holler at you regarding some splendid imitating and also asked for me to pass on his number. Mentioned something about cleaning out his closet. Make of that what you will.

I believe that’s all our guests thanked by way of five-fingered friend presents and, to Lizzy Caplan and Diana Bang, I’ll meet you in the hot tub in five as we bid to fashion some bonus bubbles. As for the film as an overall spectacle, well your enjoyment need not hinge on your interest in the topic of discussion, so much as your feelings towards the cool cats doing the creating. Strip away any political satire and you’re left with a vicious love triangle for the bromance generation; which we already know is their specialty.

That said, the fact that they tackled such a delicate topic in the first place shows that achieving par for the course simply doesn’t interest them. Be they geniuses, madmen or both; you certainly can’t knock the dimensions of their dumplings. One final tip for Dave Skylark before we cut to ads – perhaps Ms. Perry might be a more appropriate choice next time. Any woman who can squirt fresh cream from her bosoms is clearly a force to be reckoned with. And I’m reliably informed that she possesses an anus. Quick, book her Aaron before she curdles.

Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 9/10

Read Pineapple Express Appraisal
Read This is The End Appraisal
Read Sausage Party Appraisal
Read Get Him To The Greek Appraisal

Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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1 Comment

  1. Well done, Rich. Superbad never fails to entertain me. Every time it’s on, I drop what I am doing to watch. I also liked Seth in 40 Year Old Virgin. He seems like a guy I would date. As for James Franco, I remember when the buzz started with him as James Dean. Haven’t seen the Interview as of yet. I will put it on the list.

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