The Interview is essentially a classic comedy caper equipped with the benefits of social controversy and the sharp screenplay by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen. Amidst its controversies, The Interview is an often hilarious and consistently enjoyable film that knows its audience well, yet never panders to what’s acceptable.
Helming the project is directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, who do an excellent job at setting up the film’s plot. While many comedies will often be staged around specific gags or humorous moments, the film actually makes an attempt to tell a cohesive plot, yet never gets too wrapped up in its own story that the comedy comes secondary. In fact, the comedy is often very natural and flows in a manner that fits the film’s plot, specifically in it’s references to popular culture and current events. There are certainly gags, but the reliance on the film’s dialogue is what makes it so effective; the nature of the film’s setting allows for a great sense of banter, and even if it’s not always offering laughs, it remains entertaining.
The comedic duo of Seth Rogen and James Franco is also a major aspect of why the film works, as the two actor’s aforementioned banter is what makes the film so entertaining. Even though the antics of the plot can get ridiculous, the actors never seem to be trying too hard to a pull a laugh, and can even come off as charming amidst the absurdity. Also strong is the performance of Randall Park as Kim Jong-un; Park does a great job at playing a very satirical role, and manages to avoid diluting into a caricature. While much of the film relies on shock value and absurdity, Park does add a great presence to the screen and adds more to the chemistry between Franco and Rogen.
At 113 minutes, the film is perfectly paced and rarely drags in its entertaining, albeit predictable storyline. It does take a while for the plot to be set up, however the exposition is perhaps some of the film’s funniest scenes. The use of soundtrack and cameos also adds another layer to the comedy, and is used to enhance the film, not drive it. Goldberg and Rogens’ direction is also surprisingly impressive, as it sets up some genuinely intense scenes, delivers some smart plot revelations, and has a finale that’s both smart and funny.
The major problem facing The Interview is its use of gross-out humor, which is incompatible with its style and above all else isn’t that humorous. Additionally, some scenes take too much time to reach its point, which can be seen as an over-reliance on improvisational skills. These distractions are what separate the film from standard entertainment and great comedy.
The Interview is one of the most memorable and consistent comedies of the past year, and certainly one of the riskiest mainstream films in recent memory. However, the controversy fails to overshadow the fact that this is a light hearted and fun film that’s more concerned about being enjoyable than political. Grade: B+