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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Interview is a controversial comedy that was co-written and co-directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and stars Rogen and James Franco as a producer and talk show host tasked with assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Reportedly due to the movie's subject matter, distributor Sony Pictures was the victim of a huge Internet hack, which they were led to believe was the work of terrorists. Under pressure and responding to threats, Sony first opted to pull the movie but shortly after decided to release it in a limited theatrical run and on VOD. The extra publicity has made the movie quite famous, and parents should know that teens may very well want to sneak a peek. Those who do will be met with extreme foul language and strong sexual innuendo, as well as brief nudity (breasts, bottoms, etc.) and simulated sex acts. It also has several scenes of blood and gore, shooting, fighting, and explosions, many of which are played for laughs but are still graphic. There are also some scenes of drug use (Ecstasy) and brief drinking, as well as a reference to smoking pot.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
Dave Skylark (James Franco) is the slick, smarmy host of a popular celebrity TV talk show, an interviewer so skilled that he can even get Eminem to open up about his sexuality. When Dave and his producer, Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen), learn that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) is a huge fan of the show, they arrange to interview him. But, having learned this, the CIA sends agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) to convince the boys to use their opportunity to assassinate Kim instead. Once in Korea, Aaron finds himself attracted to one of Kim's top aides (Diana Bang), and Dave starts developing a bond with Kim himself. Can our heroes do the right thing and still get out of the country alive?
Is it any good?
Co-writers/directors Rogen and Evan Goldberg follow up their acclaimed all-star apocalypse comedy This Is the End with THE INTERVIEW, a less metaphysical and more topical comedy. It's an attempt at a political satire, stirring up trouble before its release -- or at least tangentially involved in trouble -- but resulting in less a political satire than a bromance with jokes about body parts and bodily functions.
The best part about The Interview is Franco, whose cheerfully loony performance recalls his award-winning role in Spring Breakers. Dave Skylark is so comfortable with his inappropriate behavior that he's instantly hilarious. He's incapable of a false note, even though he's all surface. Unfortunately, as the plot begins to kick in and take hold in the second half, less time is given to jokes, and we're left with not much more than yelling, chasing, explosions, and some gratuitous finger-biting and blood spurts.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the controversy surrounding The Interview. What was the result of Sony being hacked? Who was offended, and who was hurt? How did Sony respond to the threats? Do you agree with their decisions? Did the story surrounding the movie make you more or less interested in seeing it?
How violent is the movie? Is the violence intended for shock, humor, or both? How is it handled? Is it excessive?
How much of the movie's humor is sexual in nature? Who is that content intended to appeal to? Do you think it succeeds?
Did you notice any stereotypes in the movie? How does it portray the North Koreans? Are they all viewed the same way? Do you think the movie would have had the same impact and tone if the target of the plot had been a fictional character from a fictional country?
Why would Dave Skylark's show be popular? What's appealing about celebrity interviews versus "actual" news?
- In theaters: December 25, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: February 17, 2015
- Cast: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Lizzy Caplan
- Directors: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
- Studios: Sony Pictures Releasing, Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 112 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive language, crude and sexual humor, nudity, some drug use and bloody violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.