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INTERVIEW, THE (2014)

SYNOPSIS: Dave Skylark (James Franco) and producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) run the celebrity tabloid show "Skylark Tonight." When they land an interview with a surprise fan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Randall Park), they are recruited by the CIA to turn their trip to Pyongyang into an assassination mission.

Review by Louise Keller:
The idea is much funnier than the film: a crazy cocktail of political satire and silly buddy movie jammed with sexual innuendos and crass references to body parts. There's a smattering of splatter too, while the two protagonists (played by James Franco and Seth Rogan) retain a sense of na•ve innocence. The theme tries to drive home that words are more powerful than nukes, and many of the ideas work, although it doesn't play as funny as it should, the humour relying on a string of wacky ideas, puerile execution and the chemistry between Franco and Rogan. Rogan's direction (with Evan Goldberg) lacks the zany energy needed to mirror the film's aspirations.

The idea of portraying North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un (Randall Park, entertaining) as a misunderstood manipulator who loves 'gay' margaritas, Katy Perry, basketball and hookers makes for amusing imagery and the bungled assassination plot when Dave Skylark (Franco) and Aaron Rapaport (Rogan) are recruited by the CIA has its moments. There are a few good one-liners and I laughed when Dave corrects President Kim's reference to Stalin, telling him it is pronounced 'Stallone'.

The set up? There's a sense of the ridiculous as the premise is set as to how Dave, fronting his celebrity-driven TV interview program gets the opportunity to interview President Kim. Playing themselves, Eminem is outed as gay, Rob Lowe reveals his baldness, while there are further sensational claims in respect to Matthew McConnaughey and Miley Cyrus. Bestiality is an ongoing theme.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you would be familiar with the brouhaha that occurred prior to the film's release - with the Sony hacking scandal, cyber terrorist threats and subsequent cancelled film release and political implications. I got off on the ideas but the film comes a bit as an anticlimax and fizzles - a bit like a nuke that is detonated and shows potential, but doesn't quite hit its target.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's not as bad as some would have you believe, nor as good as we might have hoped, and there is a solid lesson for filmmakers who ignore the rules of excellence in comedy: don't try to make it all funny. The best comedy, especially when dealing with truly serious subjects, is based on genuine drama, tragedy even. Life Is Beautiful comes to mind. We can simultaneously laugh and cry at something, as comedians, cartoonists and black jokes demonstrate. The drama delivers the spike, the comedy relieves the pain.

Seth Rogan seems to understand this instinctively in his performance, but as co-director he has not asserted this cinematic truth on the screenplay or the rest of the cast. Relying on undergraduate excess in vulgarity is the best the team can do, and they do indeed provide some guffaws for those who like their screen humour oversized. But there are no real risks, no real drama and no darkness behind the laughs makes it all seem rather silly, not brave or offensive.

Wanting to make the dictator poop himself is an ambition worthy of kindy, for example.

The helter skelter violence, often bloody and graphic, doesn't sit so easily with the comedic tone, although the comedic tone is as variable as the Melbourne weather. There is a likeably offbeat (yet grounded) performance by Diana Bang as Sook, the North Korean wrangler, and Lizzy Caplan is a straight shooting CIA Agent Lacy.

Some wild ideas and crazy situations by themselves don't make a 106 minute comedy. Please try harder.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

INTERVIEW, THE (2014) (MA15+)
(US, 2014)

CAST: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Randall Park, Lizzy Caplan, Diana Bang, Timothy Simons, Reese Alexander, James Yi, Paul Bae

PRODUCER: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, James Weaver

DIRECTOR: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen

SCRIPT: Dan Sterling

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Brandon Trost

EDITOR: Zene Baker, Evan Henke

MUSIC: Henry Jackman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jon Billington

RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 12, 2015







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