The film that nearly caused a ”war”. With hype like that, it was never going to deliver up to it’s expectations. BUT it doesn’t help that it’s just not that great.
From the western capitalists that brought you Bad Neighbours and This is the End . . .
It really is what you think. Franco and Rogen apply their usual smutty spiel in a Pineapple Express meets Frost/Nixon mish-mesh.
All that controversy in the news and what do you know? It get’s released. Funny that its IMDb rating dropped from 9.2 to 6.9 after an official release date was agreed. Hmmm . . .
It’s not all bad. But my main quip with this film is that it’s the same old guff; F + R effing and jeffing, rants that go off on random tangents for far too long and, oh of course, let’s not forget the pill popping.
So what’s it about? (For those who may have missed the headlines) Dave Skylark (Franco) and producer Aaron Rapoport (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.
I knew from the get go what sort of film I was in for. The cartoon credit sequence with a Korean woman tearing up the American flag. Followed by a little girl singing “Death to America” while a nuclear missile was launched behind her said it all.
James Franco was fantastic. If not for him, this film would have bombed. Did anyone else notice how rough he was looking?
However, he played the deluded celebrity TV journalist Dave Skylark to perfection. A true egotist and simpleton. It seemed a little slow to get going. An interview with Eminem (who is looking old now!) soon livened things up.
A casual conversation inadvertently outing the rapper was a surprise. I did not expect The Real Slim Shady to suggest that his lyrics were a gay peekaboo. Brilliant.
Rogen plays Skylark’s best pal and frustrated producer. Desperate to be taken seriously and deliver real news; not that Rob Lowe is bald.
There are couple of cameos from Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s previous entries which deliver the odd chuckle. I’m not going to spoil everything now.
The bromance is still very much there. Rogen and Franco are still an entertaining couple. Normally their improvising did my nut in BUT this time around, I wanted more of it. The relentless Lord of the Rings references were starting to irritate me.
BUT it all seemed to be set up for a big punch line that I couldn’t help smiling over.
The other gags weren’t so hot. The inevitable “Me-so-sorry” lines rearing their ugly heads. Okay, the “Did you say Dong?” reference got a guilty titter. The pill popping and boozing was unnecessary and unfunny.
The alluring Lizzy Caplan did her best with her stocky CIA counterpart. If not for the “Honey Pot” debate gag, anyone could have played her. Or better yet, not needed her altogether. Shame.
The training session in which the pair must practice using Ricin was interesting but not very funny. It’s scary how poison can be transferred BUT come on, I watched 24.
So a Pineapple Express meets An Interview with a Vampire. Or reclusive maniacal leader.
How was the man in question presented? Well . . .
Randall Park was fantastic as Kim Jong-un. To be honest, he was the most entertaining character in it. BUT from a political standpoint, I could see how it could cause offense. However, I think Mr. Un needs to get a sense of humour.
I mean, come on. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, this ain’t. Hell, it doesn’t even cross Team America: World Police on the controversy scale.
He was merely a shy superfan with daddy issues. Hardly original.
Inevitably, Franco’s Skylark takes a shining to the misunderstood dictator as they bond over hookers and shooting missiles from tanks while drinking margaritas and singing to Katy Perry’s “Firework”. Yeah, you read that right.
Franco and Park were hilarious together with Rogen sitting on the sidelines. Some of Franco’s one liners were brilliant, “He’s peanut butter and jealous of us. He’s spreading KY jealous all over his balls.”
So is this really what all the fuss was about?
Well, not exactly. The final 20 minutes felt like two films meshed together and neither came off quite as well as you hoped.
The smiley superfan’s grin soon starts to crack, unearthing a demented maniac. It got a little more interesting with some actual satire. An incident involving a fake grocery store certainly got things moving in the direction I had originally expected.
There were a few moments that were just bizarre and f*cked up. They didn’t really fit in the film. Something I expected to see more in This is The End.
The strange Frost/Nixon set up at the end did throw in a few stats and suggested a little more to this chughead comedy. BUT that bubble soon burst with Jong-Un sharting on live air.
I think that controversy must have been an incredible PR stunt because beneath its fiery surface, there isn’t much else going on.
A sequence involving a drone pickup and a tiger was really funny and suspenseful. Once Diana Bang got over her “HOT” hard ass demeanour as Un’s head of communications, Sook, she was quite entertaining.
It’s big, dumb, at times quite funny but OTT and a bit of a let down.
If you were expecting something more, then you will be left disappointed. BUT if you love F + R and feel they can do no wrong then invest.
Mixed bag for me.
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