The Interview (2014)

(Netflix Streaming, April 2015)  The Interview is no mere movie.  It’s the one that earned the ire of North Korea, (allegedly) got Sony Studios hacked, got pulled from North American chain theatres, became a reference for the President of the United States of America and ended up released digitally as a hail-Mary attempt to recoup some of its production costs, eventually ending up as one of the top-grossing VOD release of all times (so far).  What a strange fate for Yet Another Rogen/Franco Stoner Comedy taking vulgar pot-shots at respectable subjects.  After Pineapple Express (crime thriller stoner comedy), Your Highness (Epic Fantasy stoner comedy) and This is the End (Post-Rapture stoner comedy), the results are familiar.  Silliness meets the sublime as a Very Serious Topic (ie; the assassination of foreign dictators by the US government) is demolished through an endless parade of lurid, stupid, dumb and crude jokes.  And yet… The Interview is surprisingly entertaining.  The friction between our hapless entertainment-TV host (James Franco, for once playing the goofball compared to Seth Rogen’s more serious news producer) and the important geopolitical assignment he receives is at the root of quite a few laughs, but the good-natured stupidity of the characters (“The tiger is wearing night-vision goggles?!?”) is enough to carry the film.  Franco is surprisingly droll (making the most out of his persona’s sexual ambiguity), while Randall Park manages a surprisingly nuanced portrayal of “President Kim” and Diana Bang makes for a spirited regime representative / love interest.  The Interview is directed with energy, featuring a terrific soundtrack and an ambitious cinematography for a dumb comedy.  It’s not a great movie, what with its occasional lulls, needlessly graphic violence and lowest-common denominator crude humor.  But it’s surprisingly funny, and at times provocative in how it mixes low-brow humor with geopolitical issues.  The Interview ends with fireworks, and stands on its own as a film that meets its intentions.

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