I fully expected this to be bad. It looked like dumb, juvenile filled dribble. And, to be fair, it is that, but it’s fantastic dumb, juvenile filled dribble. I put this on, figuring I would have it on in the background while I got some work done. Much to my surprise, I didn’t get much work done because the film pulled me in.
Yes, it’s got the array of gay and sex jokes that permanent this kind of film with a smattering of poop/fart jokes to diversify the body humor. But a majority of these jokes and genuinely funny and a handful are witty. Franco and Rogen as a duo show that they know how to do crass humor well.
Also, it’s got a solid story with a surprising amount of heart and ethos, depicting Kim Jong-un (played by the hilarious Randall Park) as a sensitive soul who just happens to have a crazy side due to the pressures of running a country facing lots of problems. A lot of the driving force of the film is Rogen’s desire to do something serious instead of the vapid, salacious celebrity interviews Franco hosts.
I also admire the film’s depiction of platonic love between men. It starts with Franco and Rogen being best buds and unironically and unromantically saying that they love each other. Sure, the film has to throw in some gay jokes, but the majority of it is played as two straight men loving each other as friends. This later develops into Franco and Kim becoming buddies as they connect over similar philosophies and interests.
It falls into the trap of most modern comedies where the majority of the film is just a bunch of people talking at each other and saying lots of funny things. I felt like I could have just listened to the film and gotten 70% of the jokes. There are some visual spectacle gags and a couple of funny edits, but most of the jokes are delivered through dialogue. It’s easy and lazy.
Is it a great film? Is it artistic? No to both questions, but it isn’t trying to be. It’s a well-crafted comedic romp with a soul. There’s not a lot more you could ask for from this kind of film. Except a tank helicopter battle with Katy Perry playing in the background. Wow, maybe this film is great.
© 2016 James Blake Ewing