The Interview (Film Review)

The Interview (Film Review)

So much controversy, over so little.

When The Interview was set to be released to theaters, it created such a stir that North Korea was deeply offended, and there were threats of terrorist attacks if the film was shown in the local cinemas.

So Hollywood backed down, instead making The Interview nearly immediately available through other sources, like via download and on Netflix, ensuring that people would get to watch the film, and capture the buzz that was surrounding it.

interview3Well, when all is said and done, I can understand why the North Koreans would be upset about the film, as it does not portray them in a very flattering (or unrealistic, mind you) light. And the majority of the film is making fun of their leader. So I guess there’s that as well. But at the end of the day, The Interview is some harmless fun that has a couple of funny moments, while the rest of the film kind of falls in to exactly what you would expect it to be.

James Franco and Seth Rogen are TV people, the on-air talent and the producer, who have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interview the reclusive Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, since he is a big fan of Franco’s TV entertainment news show. Since they will be closer to the man than anybody else, the CIA recruits them to try and assassinate the leader.

Seems easy enough, until Franco gets to know Kim, and begins to really like him- or at least the facade- of him.

Seth Rogen;James FrancoThe Interview is not really a hilarious comedy, although there are a couple of funny scenes. Franco and Rogen are always pretty good together, as we’ve seen in other films, stemming back from their days together on Freaks and Geeks, and Franco in particular plays (overplays) his part to some mild laughs. His first day spent with Kim is pretty funny, to be honest. Rogen plays his usual character, only with fewer great lines than he might be used to. He almost plays the straight man to Franco’s eccentric character.

As far as creating a message, there is nothing really new here. We know the way that things work in North Korea, and it is unfortunate the plight of the people there, living under a dictatorship full of lies and propaganda. The Interview provides us with no new insights or thoughts on how to deal with the questions in North Korea, it uses it more to poke fun at a country that we view as being backwards.

Through and through, The Interview is a 3/5 film. It has its moments of enjoyment, but there is really nothing special here. It gained popularity mostly from the controversy surrounding it, but like most films based on negative buzz, there isn’t much substance there once all is said and done. It is worth a casual watch, just to see what all the fuss is about, but not much more than that.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1 (TV Review)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1 (TV Review)

New to Netflix this month is the first season of the Emmy Award-winning TV comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, starring Andy Samberg.

The plot of the show is fairly simple. It is an ensemble comedy focused around the lives and work of a Brooklyn detective precinct. That’s it. Pretty simple, really. And it really, really works.

Perhaps the biggest strength of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is that it manages to be a true ensemble comedy, with all of the characters able to generate their own laughs. This isn’t a show that relies simply on Samberg’s goofiness and a bunch of slugs surrounding him to set up the laughs. Each character gets in on the act, able to make their own humour fit nicely into the concept of the show, and play off one another.

The 99th precinct is full of archetypal cop characters: the straight-laced Captain, the goofy, but successful detective, the brown nosed ladder climber, the hard-edged female cop, the goofy sidekick, the teddy bear sergeant, the incompetent old-timers, and the borderline psychotic secretary. And each one is able to come into their own, and not be overshadowed. The ensemble arrangement of the cast is perfect, allowing us to see, and like, each of the characters, without getting too tired of them. Obviously, Samberg is the main character, but he doesn’t really hog screen time, and his comedy is dead on. He takes the set ups perfectly, has witty, less obvious jokes, and manages to become a really likable character as the season progresses. It is a perfect blend, and well done by the show.

The hard edge and the do-gooder.
The hard edge and the do-gooder.

The supporting cast is really strong, and if the show continues, it could become one of the questions of “who is your favorite cop,” much like other ensembles in the past, like deciding who your favorite Friend was. Through season 1, I am taken by Stephanie Beatriz, who plays the black leather clad, unsmiling, tough-as-nails female cop Rosa Diaz. Not only is she intimidatingly attractive in her gothic attire, but her hard nosed cruelty is generally hilarious. She owns the character, and she plays well with the others around her. Diaz is always good for a smirk, or a commentary on how she loves when things go wrong.

The plots of the episodes are what would be expected of a comedy set in a police station. There are crimes, they solve them. But that is not really the focus of the show. It is more about the interaction of the characters that drives this series forwards. And these interactions are fantastic. The back and forth between Jake Peralta and his Captain are priceless. The constant bickering between Peralta and the goodie-two-shoes Amy Santiago gives way to some excellent one-liners. And pretty much everything that the extra-quirky secretary Gina offers up is priceless.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is funny. Something that is increasingly rare on a network series. There are laughs in every episode, and it is currently hitting its stride as a show. The drama hasn’t yet crept in, something that eventually will affect every sitcom, so right now is the glory years of the show. And yes, I understand it is only the first season. But winning the Emmy for Best Comedy and Best Comedy Actor in its first year pretty much assures us that this show will be around for a few years. It will fall, and the jokes and characters will become tiresome. But for now, it is fresh, it is fun, and it is pretty damn hilarious.

Definitely add Brooklyn Nine-Nine to your summer watch list, it will be well worth your time. Once you have adjusted to the new characters, you will start to like them, and the way they play off one another is great. Well worth watching, and enjoying.

That’s My Boy (Film Review)

That’s My Boy (Film Review)

Adam Sandler movies used to be funny. I swear. His older work, like Billy MadisonHappy Gilmore, and The Wedding Singer really did provide a lot of foolish, teenage laughs. He even proved for a while that he could be a serious actor as well, with a strong turn in Punch Drunk Love.

We, the audience, grew up. Adam Sandler did not.

A problem with comedians of this type, that go for childish laughs, definitely have their place in entertainment. But the problem arises when the built in crowd for them becomes more mature for the audience themselves, and the old type of humour that made us roar when we were 16 just isn’t the same as it is when we are working schlubs in our 30’s. The same can be said for an actor like Jim Carey (which makes me dread what will happen with the upcoming Dumb and Dumber sequel).

Thats-My-Boy-is-an-Adam-Sandler-stinker-0G1M00S3-x-largeThat’s My Boy is a story about a grade 7 student who sleeps with his smoking hot teacher, and gets her pregnant. The result of this affair is a boy named Han Solo, played by Andy Samberg, who has spent his life avoiding his father, and dealing with the consequences of being raised by him. The father, played by Sandler, is an over-the-top drunkard with a poor Boston accent who is constantly on the verge of yelling (as are so many Sandler characters). The issue with Donnie, is that at this point, it is a tired gag. Donnie is a burn out, still trying to live off the fame he got when he was 13 from sleeping with his teacher. He continues to wear old band t-shirts, and drive his Pontiac Fiero, and he successfully comes across as being quite pathetic. But not enough so that we actually sympathize with him as a character.

There are no real laughs in his movie. Maybe the slightest snicker, or under your breath “Huh,” but that is about it. Take this movie back to 1998, and it probably would have been a lot funnier, especially the brother who is in the military and wants to keep his secret “Tickle Time” a secret. There could be laughs there, but just not for the mature audience.

Maybe I shouldn’t dislike a movie just because I am too old to truly enjoy it. But it’s happening. Being older doesn’t mean that nothing is funny anymore, but it seems to mean that Adam Sandler isn’t funny anymore.

Not that you would turn on Netflix to watch this movie expecting a great plot, but it is pretty ridiculous, based around Donnie needing money by the end of the long weekend to keep himself out of jail and the IRS off his back. His son is now a successful businessman, about to get married to the attractive Leighton Meester. If Donnie can get his son to the prison to see his mother (the teacher), then he will be given $50,000 by a news company that will be there covering the story. Ridiculous? You bet. Worth watching, just to see what happens? Not really.

As with most Sandler movies, he cannot sustain comedy for the entire thing, so he tries to inject some heart into it. Will Donnie really come through and be the father that he never was to his son? The fact is, we don’t really care.

There really isn’t much here to be worth a recommendation to watch it. Instead of wasting your time with That’s My Boy, you would probably be better off re-watching Happy Gilmore, and enjoying Happy going to-to-toe with Bob Barker once again.