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The Interview (2014)AN IDIOT'S GUIDE TO SPEAKING UP FOR 25 MILLION SUFFERING PEOPLE - My… More AN IDIOT'S GUIDE TO SPEAKING UP FOR 25 MILLION SUFFERING PEOPLE - My Review of THE INTERVIEW (3 Stars) A sweet little North Korean girl sings in front of The Monument To Party Founding at the beginning of THE INTERVIEW. Her voice is that of an angel, but her words as transcribed in the subtitles speak of raping, pillaging, and annihilating the American imperialists. It's a hilarious and auspicious opening to a movie I went into with very low expectations, but emerged out of (alive!) with respect for its total balls. Make no mistake, this film has flaws, which I'll detail later, but it's a comedy and I laughed, and it takes aim at a murderous, oppressive regime, giving voice to 25 million people who have been silenced. No small feat. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have teamed up again, along with screenwriter Dan Sterling, to tell the story of how a TMZ-style host (James Franco) and his producer (Rogen) are recruited by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-un after scoring a rare interview with the young dictator. Franco plays Dave Skylark as a total buffoon, who, like Dennis Rodman before him, seems to have no clue about his surroundings. It's a wise strategy, as the jokes are more often than not at his expense. He's a useful idiot who can't help but spout racist epithets or drink the North Korea Kool Aid. Rogen plays it straight for the most part as the two are trained by Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan, underused but fun to watch) on the details of Ricin poisoning. The first third of the film scores big in the setup. Early scenes with Eminem and other unbilled celebs not only help to underscore the motivations of our two heroes, but they're also on-target as they hilariously lampoon the current state of journalism. On a Chinese mountaintop, Rogen encounters Sook (a highly engaging Diana Bang), the DPRK's Chief Propagandist. Part dominatrix, part pitbull (so she's REALLY badass, ok?), Sook represents the unwavering, merciless face of the regime. It's a fast-paced, well-directed scene that caught me by surprise. At this point, I was impressed by the filmmaking. Cinematographer Brandon Trost has given the film a rich, foreboding look while Editors Zene Baker and Evan Henke maintain a crisp pace to the storytelling. Enter THE INTERVIEW's secret weapon, Randall Park (VEEP), who provides a terrific, multi-faceted performance as Kim Jong-un. Seductive, vulnerable, and at times the petulant monster you'd expect, Park's turn is indelible. What makes this movie so rich is the push-pull you feel over his character. Luckily, the filmmakers have the guts to address the fact that a great lie is being perpetuated on a people who are systematically starved, tortured and murdered. In other hands, we would have been given a fictional President, but that would have softened the satire. With Holocaust-level genocide and unparalleled oppression happening less than 6000 miles away from the US, it feels right to advocate for displacement or execution of a dynasty in power for 66 years and counting. Somebody has to speak up for the masses who literally have guns to their heads, no internet access, meager incomes, public executions, and East Berlin-style spy tactics to assure their silence. Now about that comedy thing. Not gonna lie, I found myself laughing a lot. Sure, the energy wanes and things get repetitive here and there. As can be expected in a Rogen/Franco comedy, there are many, many (too many) jokes about things going in or out of butts. There are unnecessary jokes about Korean pigeon English or a bevy of bikini-clad "concubines" ready and waiting to pop open a Cristal or service their Dear Leader. But enough of the jokes landed and somehow Katy Perry's "Firework" ends up being a liberating anthem. Who knew? Things get particularly violent in the last act, but when you're doing a film about a real, standing leader, the stakes need to get to this level. I found myself caring about the Skylark/Kim Jong-un relationship and its inevitable betrayals, and I also enjoyed Rogen's chemistry with Bang. When all is said and done, I don't think anyone is going to look back at this film as the laugh riot of the decade or as an advancement in filmmaking technique. Hopefully, and I don't say this lightly, we may look back and point to this film as the beginning of the end to the enslavement of a nation who deserve happier lives.
30 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes