Posts Tagged ‘Evan Goldberg’

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What a difference a month makes.

Thirty-some days ago, everybody was up in arms about North Korea’s alleged “hack” into Sony’s purportedly “secure” computer systems, and when word got out that the object of that tiny, starving little nation’s ire was the not-quite-released- at- the- time James Franco/Seth Rogen “comedy” vehicle The Interview, suddenly movie fans everywhere propelled this flick to the top of their “must-see” list — especially when Sony reversed their decision to shelve the film and announced that they were “bravely” going to screen it in select theaters and make it available for purchase online despite the “threats” they’d purportedly received from representatives of dictator Kim Jong Un stating that “9/11-style terrorist attacks” would be forthcoming if the film ever saw the light of day.

Sure, some of us were calling bullshit on the whole thing from the outset (check my facebook and twitter feeds if you don’t believe I smelled a rat from day one) — we’re talking about a country where hardly anybody even has internet access let alone “super-hacker” skills, after all — but now it seems the tide has turned. The movie was screened, no “9/11-style terrorist attacks” ever took place, and everyone who put up tweets along the lines of “going to see The Interview today because, goddamit, free speech matters” can pat themselves on the back for being noble crusaders for the first amendment. The good guys won here, right? Heck, now all of you high-and-mighty “free speech” champions can even see this thing on Netflix absolutely free (which is how I caught it last night).

Except — almost no actual “cyber security” experts believe North Korea was behind the “hack” anymore. The idea that they could even launch “9/11-style terrorist attacks” if they wanted to  is utter nonsense. And Sony laughed all the way to the bank, as a film that no doubt would have been completely lost among a crowd of high-profile, big-budget holiday season releases raked in more money via internet downloads than it ever would have made at the box office.

Let’s just call this for what it is — the most epic publicity hustle in Hollywood history. I promise you, somewhere the late,  legendary showbiz huckster William Castle is having a long, hard laugh at this whole thing, because the scale of Sony’s scam is so far beyond his wildest dreams and imaginings. I couldn’t say for sure whether the “hack” was an “inside job” or not — theories abound that a disgruntled former employee may be the one responsible — but that doesn’t even really matter at this point : the minute Sony’s systems were compromised, either from within or without,  some enterprising marketing whiz there decided to blame it on an easy target, and use the situation to make The Interview both the most-talked about film in a good long while and a symbol for armchair and internet “freedom” crusaders everywhere.

There’s just one pesky little detail that all the carnival barking and righteous indignation in the world can’t cover up, though — the flick itself is a festering, oozing, putrefying,  tapeworm-infested pile of six-week-old dogshit that’s completely devoid of any redeeming qualities whatsoever.

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Meet complete fucking asshole Dave Skylark (James Franco), an egotistical, shallow, stupid TV talk show host who will fuck anything, and his producer, Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen), an insecure, personality-free, tepid nebbish who wants to do “serious” news. The two share a painfully dull Hollywood “bromance,” but much as they might joke about it, (which is absolutely all of the time) don’t worry — they’re not really gay,   and they both spend the better part of the next two hours desperately trying to prove it. In fact, this flick oozes with the kind of deep-seated homophobia that only the self-proclaimed “hip” can get away with, whether it’s playing a fictitious scene of Eminem “coming out of the closet” for laughs, or having Rogen’s dipshit character shove a metallic projectile up his asshole while stressign again and again that nothing’s ever been up there before, the message here is clear — “hey, we’re cool 21st-century cats who have no problem with gay people, but please! Don’t anybody accuse us of being queer ourselves!”

If that setup sounds “funny” to you, then you’ll probably love the overall level of the “humor” in this flick, since it never figures out that being crass, boorish, and crude isn’t the same thing as actual, ya know, comedy. The entire movie is an endless succession of dick jokes, fart jokes, jerk-off jokes, and shit jokes, all delivered with such a coy wink and nudge to the audience that you’ll actually miss being in the first grade because, hell, back then at least you had an excuse to laugh at this kind of garbage — you weren’t old enough to know any better.

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Now you are, though, and I hate to be the one to break it to you, but The Interview is a movie made by morons for morons. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not above seriously brain-dead “retard humor” myself — shit, I number King Frat among my all-time favorite films — but at least the makers of the dumb-fuck comedies of yesteryear didn’t think they deserved a fucking medal for their cleverness the way that Franco and Rogen do. I’m especially going to fault Rogen here since he co-directed the film along with Evan Goldberg (who, funny enough, worked with these two assholes and a bunch more on the equally un-funny and ego-stroking This Is The End) and co-wrote the screenplay, but really, when there’s this much blame to spread around, no one is really innocent.

By the time the “action” moves to North Korea, we get a reasonably competent performance from Randall Park as dictator Kim Jong Un, but hey, whaddya know — turns out his character’s entire raison d’etre is to desperately  (and, again, endlessly) prove that he’s not gay, too! All the “honeydick” jokes in the world aside, don’t you worry, hung-up homophobes in the audience — these dudes are all straight as a line and just love pussy.

Problem is, the film itself doesn’t seem to like women very much, as evidenced by the fact that Rogen’s purported “love interest” (played by Diana Bang) is never given a last name, and the closest thing Franco gets to a “love interest” — the duo’s CIA “handler” (Lizzy Caplan) who is in charge of co-ordinating their assassination attempt on Un — is never given a first name. There a million and one “guy movies” out there where women are treated as interchangeable pieces of meat, sure, but few are this fucking brazen about it.

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So, yeah — at the end of the day,  this is what we “fighting for,” I guess. The “right” to watch worthless films with worthless “stars” whose egos are so monumental that they put the real Kim Jong Un — who’s known for having statues erected in his honor and plastering portraits of his face in every building in his country — to shame. Tell you what, if this is what The Interview is like, I don’t want whatever job it is they’re offering.

 

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The big problem with most comedy these days is that it just isn’t funny. Granted, my idea of “good” comedy might be different from yours — I prefer the kind of humor that forces society to take a hard look at itself while simultaneously making us laugh (George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, even some early Richard Pryor are good examples of what I’m talking about), and not the sort that actively encourages us to be even bigger morons and fuck-ups than we already are by celebrating all our most base, lowest-common-denominator elements under the thin veneer of “poking fun at ourselves.”

In other words, I don’t like stupid shit, and this summer’s offerings at the box office are loaded with the worst offenders when it comes to peddling stupid shit. The truly loathsome Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson have teamed up again for The Internship. The worst culprits of all, Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and David Spade (Chris Rock still gets a pass in my book, though not for much longer if he keeps this shit up) are back in Grown Ups 2. And almost every other unfunny asshole on the planet is on board for the movie that we’re here to (briefly) discuss today, This Is The End.

Yup, friends, the comedy landscape is indeed bleak, and with the spectre of  another brain-dead Will Ferrell extended character sketch breathing down our necks in the form of Anchorman 2, it doesn’t look like things will be improving anytime soon. Oh well — at least Ben Still is nowhere to be found on the radar screen for now.

Seriously, about the only thing This Is The End proves is that the only thing less entertaining than watching Seth Rogen (who also co-directed and co-wrote this stinkbomb along with Evan Goldberg), Jonah Hill, James Franco (who I usually actually like), Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, Jay Baruchel, Rihanna, Emma Watson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Channing Tatum playing other people is watching them play themselves. Oh, sure, their characterization here is self-deprecating on its surface, but poke beneath that for one nanosecond and you’ll see that this tone is a phony one and that the real raison d’etre for this film is for all these folks to tell us how awesome they are for a couple of hours. Just mix in the occasional pot, sex, or bodily fluids joke and you’re successfully hoodwinked 95% of the country into thinking you’re really just an average guy or gal like them.

Sorry, not buying it. “Celebrities Vs. The End Of The World” is as shallow an idea in practice as it sounds on paper, friends, and watching the rich and famous try to navigate their way through the apocalypse turns out to be so goddamn idiotic that you’ll be actively wishing for the world to end before the movie does, if only to save you from one more in-joke or self-aggrandizing public chest-thumping in the guise of toilet humor.

Seriously, who is the audience for a movie like this? Are we so obsessed with the vapid celebrity “lifestyle” that we’re willing to genuflect before these people and hand them our cash (full disclosure — I snuck into this one)  for telling us how cool they are to our faces? How pathetic and gullible have we become? How willing  to actively participate in our own cultural dumbing-down?

Ya know, maybe this is all we really deserve at this point, if we’ve become this cowed, complacent, and resigned to our own slow-burn apocalypse. What was it they said about the fall of Rome and bread and circuses?

The only joke in This Is The End is the massive, and frankly kinda tragic, one that’s being played on all of us.