Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Interview - Take Two (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“The Interview” Proves
Everybody’s a Critic

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Sure, Kim Jong-un is the 31-year-old despot who controls the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. And maybe he did have his uncle ripped to death by wild dogs. He’s also threatened the United States with a pre-emptive nuclear attack. But I’ve gotta admit, the guy does have good taste in movies.

At least that’s my theory as to why he targeted Sony Pictures with his computer hackers, a sophisticated cyber-warfare cell called Bureau 121.

Yes, “The Interview” is a pretty lame movie.

By now, everybody knows its plot: A self-absorbed TV star and his producer pal (James Franco and Seth Rogan) are recruited by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-un when he invites them to North Korea to do an interview.

Taking a page from the CIA’s historical failed attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, their handlers (Lizzy Caplan and Reese Alexander) give them a poison guaranteed to take out Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) with a handshake.

There’s funny repartee as the boys try to clarify what the CIA agents mean when they say they want them to “take him out.”

“For drinks?”

“Like to dinner?”

“On the town”

Most of the plot (written by Rogan and Daily Show writer Dan Sterling) concerns smarmy Dave Skylark (Franco) changing his mind about killing Kim Jong-un after being manipulated by the Supreme Leader. The crafty dictator plays basketball with Skylark, takes him for a ride in a tank, sings Katy Perry songs, trots out naked Korean babes, even gives him a puppy.

But in the end (do we need a spoiler alert?) the boys manage to shoot down Kim Jong-un’s helicopter, causing his head to melt in a horrendous ball of fire, as they make their escape in the tank.

North Korea described the film as an “act of war.” And after being threatened by the Pyongyang government’s hackers, Sony switched “The Interview” from a national rollout to a limited release to 331 small theaters. The Tropic Cinema was selected as one of two theaters showing the film in the state of Florida. Sony also made the movie available online via YouTube, Xbox Video and Google Play.

Key West moviegoers had mixed reactions. Many told me they attended the movie out of curiosity or in support of free speech, with their comments falling into two opinions: “I had such low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised.”   And “I’m glad I went, but I doubt I’ll ever go see another Seth Rogan movie.”

Yes, definitely blame Seth Rogan for what you liked and didn’t like. He conceived the movie, co-wrote it, co-produced it, and co-directed it. As well as co-starring in it. The film features his expected fifth-grade-level potty humor.

Rogan and Franco were joined by enough real-life media types --Brian Williams, Seth Miller, and Bill Maher -- to give the film a certain sense of verisimilitude. The media send-up was complete with Eminem coming out as gay, Rob Lowe admitting he’s bald, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt making a nutty appearance in a series of television interview parodies.

Rogan plays his trademarked self. Franco outrageously overacts. And Randall Park nails his part as the Supreme Leader, actually honeydicking you into caring for him.

But, as we know, everybody thinks he’s a movie critic. And the real Kim Jong-un is no exception. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a team of hackers at my disposal.


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