Escobar: Paradise Lost

Director: Andrea Di. Stefano

Lead Actors: Josh Hutcherson, Claudia Traisac, Brady Corbet, Benicio Del Toro, Carlos Bardem

Executive Producer: Benicio Del Toro

Plot Synopsis: This movie starts in 1991 in what is considered to be the height of power for Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. 

We meet Escobar, played by Benicio Del Toro, the day before he has agreed to surrender to state authorities and serve time in jail for the assassination of a state official.

On a wacky 1991-era mobile phone he calls his mother, and with terrible reception, he prays with her and confesses to God that everything he has done, he did for his family.

Then he gets down to business - the business of hiding away his fortune.

His plan consists of fanning it out into different towns, and hiding it in caves all throughout rural Colombia, and closing the caves with dynamite, and then finally killing those who know about the location.

This is where the naive Nick, played by Josh Hutcherson of Hunger Games fame, steps into the plot. Escobar asks Nick, who is now an affiliate member of his family (through his marriage to  Escobar's niece Maria,) to drive one truck full of loot to a small town. He is then to accompany himself with another man to take the loot to a cave and blow up the entrance.

Escobar then tells Nick that he will have to kill the other man once the errand is done. 

In Nick's face, we can see that this will be a problem. We can tell, in Nick's eyes, that he has never killed anyone before.

But how has this skipped the mind of Pablo Escobar, the most successful drug trafficker of all time, a billionaire who has risen to his level by taking care of every detail at every point. Or has it? Is this a test? A final test to truly earn the hand of his niece and prove himself a useful gringo?

Who knows? We are then catapulted to two years earlier, when Nick meets Maria, played delightfully by Claudia Traisac.

Nick and his brother, played passionately by Brady Corbet, are setting up a camp and surf school in the woods near a beautiful beach on the coast of Colombia. Maria is running humanitarian errands funded by her Uncle in the closest city to the beach.

Nick sees her from a distance, then makes his move. He asks to rent her truck, a rare and useful machine in this era in rural Colombia. She offers it for free. Smiles are exchanged, pheromone, no doubt, released.

Nick, a happy-go-lucky surfer dude, proceeds to seduce Maria with the ease that only a surfer dude can have. Maria perhaps not used to the zeitgeist of gringo-surfer-dude charm,
falls head over heels for him.

In one scene Nick awakens and she is awaiting him, sparsely clothed, right at the foot of his hammock, as the sun rises over the beach.

As this dream-like courtship ensues, Nick slowly, slowly, perhaps too slowly, realizes why Maria would have a nice truck at her disposal in this poverty-ridden state, and more importantly WHO her uncle is. 

Her uncle is Pablo Escobar. At at that time, in 1991, that name perhaps didn't carry much weight to Nick, a Canadian surfer. But now, as I read about him posthumously, I know that he was and remains in death the world's most lethal cocaine kingpin.

Let's put it this way: if you did cocaine in the 1980s in the US, it was most likely brought to you by Pablo Escobar.

Finally, after being flown to a private island via helicopter to celebrate Escobar's wedding, Nick asks Maria a very important question: "where does your uncle get all of his money?"

"Cocaine," Maria says, matter-of-factly. "My people have been chewing the cocaine leaf for years, and why shouldn't we make money for our country exporting it?!"

It was at that point that I could almost see powdery-nosed Charlie sheen spring up from the bosom one of his angels screaming "WINNING!"

Winning indeed. Escobar has a ranch on a private island. He has a vintage car collection. He not only has his own stable of horses but also a few elephants (and hippos that were not pictured in this movie).
Wikipedia estimates Escobar's net worth at the height of his power at $30 billion. To put that in context-that's a lot more than Magic Johnson.

It is unclear from Hutcherson's limited reserve of acting expressions
whether Nick is seduced by this, or simply very in love with Maria, or both.  But he does convey some fear and apprehension which is normal.

Nick and Maria end up moving in with Escobar and his family. In one scene, the family sits at a table eating, and Escobar's henchman have their guns with them at the table, just to the right of the steak knives. This unnerves Nick.

Who Would Like it and Why
The people who liked The Last King of Scotland and other political thrillers would enjoy this. It is a political thriller but it's also a way to showcase Benicio Del Toro's growing acting abilities. He plays Escobar as eccentric and incredibly charming, calculating and of course, ruthless.

Del Toro seemed to be having much fun in this role.

Who Might not Like it and Why
Rational people might be appalled at Nick's ignorance and his slowness in realizing that being linked with the Escobar clan would shorten his life by about 60 years.

It raises the question: if you met the perfect woman and she is wild about you, would you let it bother you that her uncle's henchmen were always washing blood off of themselves in the horse stables?

Why do drug dealer's relatives have to be so beautiful and enticing?!

Highlights/Top Scenes
There are several "sizing up" scenes between Escobar and Nick that are transparent to the audience as to what's really going on. 

Escobar seems to be deciding what to do with Nick- whose only real skill is surfing. How can he be of use to the family? All of these scenes are acting highlights for Del Toro, who most of us first saw about 20 years ago in the movie Usual Suspects, where he played a much pettier criminal.

Also, let's face it, Maria is seductive and innocent and lovely.

There is a scene where Nick is supposed to kill a young man. This scene and the build-up to it were done exquisitely well by Di Stefano - a first-time director but an accomplished writer who gave us the movies "Life of Pi" and "Nine".

No one is exactly sure how Nick is going to handle this dubious errand handed down by Escobar. What ensues is a moral dilemma that this surfer never expected to encounter as he left Canada with his brother to surf south of the equator.

Another epic scene is when Escobar serenades his new bride in front of his family at a wedding. I am not sure the style of this singing, but it is clear that Del Toro nails it to the wall, and his bride as well as some of the other women in the crowd are ALL hot and bothered.

It was funny and charming and again Del Toro, who also gained much critical praise in another movie about cocaine, Traffic, was having a blast. 

And why not?! Life is short, especially if your vocation is supplying the United States of America with that white gold!

Three Mike and Ikes

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

Director: Andy Fickman

Lead Actors: Kevin James, Raini Rodriguez, Keir O'Donnell,  Eduardo Verástegui

Producer: Mary P. Ewing

Plot Synopsis:
Paul Blart- eccentric mall cop, father, man.

This is a further examination of the lovable Blart, played brilliantly by the even more lovable and talented Kevin James of "King of Queens" fame.

Blart, and his buddies that he meets up with at the Security Officer's Trade Association convention in Vegas, seem to embody what the average person sees in security guards. They are slow, overweight and weird with a devotion to their job that is hard to grasp. As this movie goes on though, we learn that they are also passionate about service and what they do, and at the end of the day they cannot resist the urge to help someone.

This is where the beauty of the movie was for me: the hearts of these sincere security guards who would instinctively save the life of the cruelest most base individuals without even thinking about it.

This is beautifully illustrated in a realistically emotional speech in the middle of the movie as Blart speaks to his fellow security guards at the convention as the key note speaker. Much like ambulance drivers, doctors and other freakishly devoted professionals, security guards share the urge to help their common man. That's what distinguishes them, and gives them reason to get up in the morning, every morning without fail and without calling in sick to work.

Therein lies the key to any good character development in story-telling: likability. Likability, and that is why James, about sixty pounds short of having a perfect body or six pack abs, has enjoyed a long and illustrious career in comedy. He makes Blart someone I would want to be my friend and someone I would care about.

In Blart's latest adventure, after a series of terrible personal troubles and losses,he is invited to speak at a trade convention for security officers in Las Vegas. 

This invitation is a boost to Blart and he is eager to attend. So he goes to the convention, with his daughter, who has just been accepted into the University of California at Los Angeles, but is too afraid to tell Blart about this.

Blart, to the delight of viewers who have stuck with the movie this far in, reunites with some old friends in the Security Officer's Trade Association convention.

His friends are as weird in appearance and personality as he is, and together they all form a weird posse.

This section is great character development on the director's part, as I feel like I've seen all of these characters before, somewhere, whether it was a mall like the one where Blart works, or an airport, or a convention building, or even a Ralphs or CVS in Los Angeles. 

Let's face it, it takes an abnormal person, in my eyes, to go after a job as a security officer.

The plot is that some very attractive and elite criminals who have decided to steal all of the art from the Wynn Casino and Resort.

They are highly trained, athletic, and they have a plan. It's a great plan too, but either they ignored the fact that security officers from around the country would be sharing the hotel with them that weekend, or they underestimated the significance of it.

You can see this coming a mile away, but through a twist of events Paul Blart catches wind of the heist, and tries to stop it, at first alone then with the help of his fellow security officers.

What ensues is an underdog story, the ugly and not so pretty battling the beautiful. This culminates in a standoff for the ages, where Blart and his posse use non-lethal weapons to ultimately defeat world-class criminals. 

The actual fight scene is poetry-in-motion where belts and jackets and human body fat are used to gain the ultimate advantage.  

Who Would Like it and Why
Fans of the underdog, of course. Also, fans of the first "Mall Cop" movie. Also, fans of Kevin James. The man might be slightly overweight but he can move quicker and is more agile than an NBA basketball player.

This agility is in full display when he rolls over onto an athletic lady criminal and through wriggling around and digging his shoulder blades into her, he disables her!

Also, the man has dance moves! This is in display when Blart chases a criminal into a full-on production of Swan Lake. Blart ends up with swan wings on, strapped into a trapeze wire, stealing the whole show with crazy dance moves.

Let's face it - James has undeniable charisma, which fans of his hit sit com King of Queens are very aware of.

Who Might not Like it and Why
Blart has a very strong personality and it is thrown at you very early on. This is something that needs to be endured to get to the comedy gold at the end of the movie. 

Highlights/Top Scenes
There is a love interest who is a possible ten in terms of physical looks. She plays a big wig in the Wynn Hotel and Casino. Blart accuses her of having a crush on him, which she vehemently denies. 

She keeps running into him, and Blart calls her on her obvious crush each time. After one denial of hers, Blart says, "oh please, your upper lip is sweating!" She checks, and it is. This is funny writing.

Two Mike and Ikes

Cinegeoff Podcast: Equal Opportunity Offender

Cinegeoff Podcast, a popular Los Angeles podcast, has declared comedy war on everyone.

"Everyone bro, look it up!" assured podcaster Geoffrey Altrocchi when asked by reporters if that meant women and children. "For the record, I think women and children are just begging to be made fun of!"

Ty McLemore, Altrocchi's partner in crime on the podcast, announced that even midgets, while small and difficult to find, would not escape the jokes, funny half truths and altogether witty exchanges that go on in the podcast. 

A taste of Geoff and Ty's handiwork can be sampled here:

"We find it especially funny how high their voices are," McLemore assured.

The Podcast, which is over 2-years-old now, and has garnered critical praise, or rather has garnered criticism from those who listen to it, is centered around entertainment and making fun of the news. The podcast also takes a special kind of relish (but hold the tomato) in pointing out the eccentricities of Los Angeles.

When asked if this comedy Chinese star would spare Mclemore and Altrocchi, Mclemore simply declared, "no way man.". 

"We are both fully prepared to make fun of one another, if need be," Altrocchi said, sizing Ty up, most likely thinking of a possible burn. 

"Oh, I've been saving up some lyrical, comedy ammo since the first day I met this clown," McLemore assured.

McLemore is a living, walking and talking Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air. He's so white I asked him for insurance quotes the first time I met him," Altrocchi said of his outwardly African-American comedy partner. "He's SO white that the NAACP revoked his Black card. They say he can reapply for it in 2017."

Asked whether or not the two were ready for the backlash from the over-politically correct and sensitive world they live in, both McLemore and Altrocchi said they have an action plan.

"We call the groups right after we offend them and turn ourselves in. It seems to build up a sort of good will. If we offend an ethnic group or something, we call them up and tell them what we said, then we describe how we are going to punish ourselves. Sometimes this creates a weird sort of S&M vibe, but it all makes for fantastic podcasting," Altrocchi said.

Legendary radio man Howard Stern, when asked if he was afraid of the mad cap comedy waves that Altrocchi and McLemore were making, denied knowing who they were . . . 

The Theory of Everything

Director: James Marsh

Lead Actors: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones


Plot Synopsis
We meet Stephen Hawking as a PHD student. He is riding swiftly on a bike, with full use of his legs and hands. There is a smile on his face and he is alive, very alive. He is on a way to a party, a social mixer, where he meets the lovely Jane, future Mrs. Hawking, played by Felicity Jones.

We get the feeling that with her beauty, Jane could have charmed just about any man there, whereas Stephen is shy and awkward. But, there is a spark inside Jane, and she is much more interested in Stephen's ramblings about time and the universe than anyone else at the party, including the friends she came with.

A literature major herself, she is immediately captivated and challenged by Hawking, who also happens to be an atheist and challenges her god-fearing ways.

Simply put: sparks fly and these two intellectual giants are soon dancing gingerly under the stars that Hawking will spend his professional life trying to explain.

Hawking is also rapidly establishing himself as a genius at school.

Things are going well, then Hawking has a fall that takes him to the hospital. There he learns that he has a degenerative disease, and only two years to live.

Stephen falls into a funk and pushes everyone out. But Jane, always head strong, pushes her way back into Stephen's life. She insists on being a part of his life, even if it is only two years, because she loves him.

Anyone who knows Hawking's story knows that he got a little more than 2 more years of living. But how did his condition affect his relationship with the love of his life? That is the focus of this movie.

Who Would Like it and Why
Romantics and fans of character studies. The movie and the writing was disciplined in that it stuck to examining the relationship between these two complex people.

They both had attributes and faults that helped and hindered their relationship. The movie showed Hawking to be a bit full of pride and ego. We see Jane becoming jealous of the attention Hawking gets. She also feels isolated as she is basically a single parent left to take care of three . . . well make that four helpless children.

These stresses wear on Jane just as a handsome stranger enters her life. . .

What I liked about this movie is that it read more like a romance novel. It stayed true to the details of the relationship. Hawking's fame and his work played second fiddle to the mechanics of how he got along with Jane.

Who Might not Like it and Why
I think it could have been tightened up in the middle. It started to become a bit of a regular old bio pic, as we see Hawking growing older and more famous.

Summer dresses were replaced with conservative skirts for Jones, who was supposed to be aging. Her hair also became much shorter the more frustrated she became in the relationship. When Jane meets her handsome stranger is where the movie began to lag. That could have been edited a little more precisely.

Highlights/Top Scenes
The beginning of the movie was absolutely glorious. Much, it would seem, like the beginning of Hawking's adult life. Brilliant scientist passionately in love with a beautiful woman who gets him. This portion of the movie was idyllic and like an endless summer.

It also showed some of the physical splendor of England. As time went on though, everything became a little bit more tedious. But again, maybe this was a careful calculation and the director meant for things to unfold this way.

There were a few key ingredients in this movie that kept it moving though. First was the physical beauty of Felicity Jones, combined with her strong acting. The chemistry between Redmayne and Jones was electrifying in the beginning. Absolutely palpable.

Then there's Redmayne's acting, which garnered him a best actor Oscar statuette at this year's academy awards. The way he contorted his body must have taken months or possibly more than a year to master. And while he was able to capture Stephen's tortured condition, what was masterful was that Redmayne also managed to capture a bit of Hawking's great spirit -the spirit of a man who was given two years to live by medical professionals some forty years ago. Even though he can barely move his face, Redmayne gives Hawking flare, humor, playfulness, and I dare say a genuine joy of living despite his physical condition.

This takes me back to the beginning of the movie when the doctor is telling Stephen how he will slowly lose the use of all of his muscles. Hawking, with a steely glance, asks, "What about the brain?" The doctor assures him his brain will not degenerate. We can see, even then, that this gives Hawking hope for some sort of quality of life.

Kudos to Hawking for facing his adversities with dignity and flare. And congratulations to Redmayne for being able to capture Hawking's determination without full use of the actor's most prized his tool .. . his face.

Three Mike and Ikes

Wedding Ringer

Director: Jeremy Garelick
Lead Actors: Josh Gad, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting

                                         Kevin Hart

Ben Waisbren

Plot Synopsis
This is about a very successful white man - Doug Harris, played well by Josh Gad, who doesn't have any friends. He manages to convince a beautiful blonde woman from Los Angeles to marry him - not sure how he did that. . .

His bride/dependent to be is played convincingly by Kaley Cuoco Sweeting of "Big Bang Theory fame.

Huh hmm. . .so Harris has a sexy bride to be . . but he still has no friends. We meet him in a plush office making some very awkward, last minute calls to old acquaintances, seeing if they want to be his best man in his wedding.  . . .

There are pauses on the other end of the line when people remind Harris that they really aren't that big of friends in the first place!

Anyway, at the end of these embarrassing phone calls, Gad collapses a glass table and is sitting amongst a million shards of broken glass.

This is the first, but not the last violent hit this protagonist will take in this highly physical comedy that enflames man's most basic senses!

Since Harris is in a fix and needs a best man, his wedding planner recommends someone to him -Jimmy Callahan, played gleefully by Kevin Hart.

Harris has to go to a broke-down miniature golf course and whisper a name to a guy to even get to Callahan's underground office. (All red flags in my book).

The minute Callahan meets Harris, he is in full hustle, sales pitch mode.

Callahan's pitch is well-rehearsed and solid, and slowly he gets his hooks, or teeth, or both into the rich but emotionally vulnerable Harris.

Callahan then convinces him to go for "the golden tux" - the golden tux is the highest and most expensive of Callahan's packages and it's never been done before.

The "golden tux" basically means that Callahan will not only pretend to be Harris' best man with years of history to foil everyone, but he will find 7 or 8 groomsmen to do the same.

They agree on it, and they're excited, but they don't have much time and this is going to be difficult. And away we go . . .

What ensues is a series of predictable situations wherein the two, Gad and Hart, are trying to cover their lies in front of relatives of the bride.

This is the beginning a potentially viable black and white comedy team, potentially.

Hart, who I'm told is 5 foot 5 is like a tireless point guard in this movie, always working his angles, no  matter how badly he messes up and has to back pedal.
Gad's Harris is a punching bag in this movie.

He gets hit from every angle, and at one point nearly gets his testicles ripped off by a dog! I suppose this is all done in the name of comedy, or perhaps it's some sort of Karma he's getting for lying about who his best man is.

The state of Harris' testicles in this movie may not matter, because they sure aren't getting any attention from the beautiful Gretchen Palmer.

She won't even let Harris touch her before the wedding is official-despite the fact that she teases him on a nightly basis.

Overall, in this movie, it's tough to be Gad's Harris, it's great to be Hart's Jimmy Callahan - if he can keep the hustle up (note, after most successful Best Man frauds, Callahan beds the best-looking bridesmaid).

Who Would Like it and Why
The real winning in this movie happens when Hart assembles the groomsmen. 

Callahan distastefully chooses one of the best ever teams of ner-do- wells. It's as if he picked them all from the same San Bernadino unemployment line.

There is a fat guy, a guy who's just out of prison, there is a ripped guy whose only party trick is to rip his shirt off and show his abs, there is another guy whose only party trick is to throw his shoulder out of the socket, then there is the short Japanese guy whose only trick is that he has three balls (a possible shout out to the Fukushima nuclear energy leak brought on by the Japanese tsunami.)

Anyway, this is the crack team Callahan assembles, and they make the whole movie worth while!

While Gad works hard the whole movie at being castrated both literally and figuratively, I was under the impression that Kaley Cuoco Sweeting just needed the money and was calling it in. Hart was calling it in as well, and really wasn't present during the entire movie.

But this crew, this 7 or 8 groomsman, they were quirky, pulled from all over the place, and forced to work together. They were ugly on the outside, but inside they wanted to make this work. 

I dare Garelick or Gad to do a full movie with the groomsman. I think it would be twice as good as the Wedding Ringer!

Who Might not Like it and Why Highlights
I think, honestly, that Hart himself phoned in his performance and that everyone else (aside from Kaley Cuco-Sweeting) was treating it very seriously, or funnily rather.

Hart, though, left a lot to be desired! I can't place exactly what he was doing wrong, he just seemed insincere and there for the pay check. Some of the actors there seemed intent on making something out of this movie.

For some of them, it may be their only movie all year, or their whole lives, while this seemed like just another side hustle for Hart!

I may have confused his character's intentions with Hart's intentions, but I believe and hope that Hart is capable of being a lot better.

I would love to see Hart focused and at a hundred percent and away from his phone for a prolonged period of time!

Two Mike and Ikes

Black Or White

Director: Mike Binder
Lead Actors: Octavia Spencer, Gilian Jacobs

Producer: Robert Ogden

Plot Synopsis:

This movie was a delicate look at race relations in Los Angeles. At the center of it was an adorable little 3rd grade girl who was the product of a black father and white mother. The white mother died at child birth due to complications, and the black father struggles with drug addiction and is not present in the child's life.
This has left raising the child to the white grandparents. We meet Kevin Costner's Eliot Anderson in a waiting room. His face is vacant, and we soon learn that his wife, the girl's grandmother, has just died in a car accident.
     Anderson's face tells us that this is life's toughest blow to date for him. He is listless and he turns to the warmth of his favorite drink (southern comfort whiskey from what I could tell). He wakes up in the fetal position in a beautiful bed. This is the first night he's spent in it without his wife.
     Staring at him is the ethereal Eloise - a beautiful child. She is in her school uniform, ready to go, not knowing that her grandmother, who has raised her up to this point, is dead.
     Now Anderson, a hard hitting lawyer by trade, must learn to raise his grandchild - the only remnant he has of his lost daughter and wife.
    Then we learn about Eloise's spirited black heritage when Rowena Jeffers, her other grandmother, shows up at the wake. With her big eyes and determined spirit she approaches Eliot with the hard truth that he may not be able to handle raising a child. She suggests that Eloise should move to South Central Los Angeles with her and be raised by the African American side of her family.
    While this would be a change of pace for Eloise, who has her own room with a fish aquarium, and enjoys a lavish lifestyle provided by Anderson's lawyering, we also learn that Rowena is a successful business woman and has a wonderful, supportive family who all love Rowena.
    Anderson and Rowena don't dislike each other and they are able to have grown-up conversations. In one of my favorite scenes, Anderson asks Eloise's African tutor and drives him to South Central to talk to Rowena in person. 
     This is the first time the African tutor has seen this part of town.
     It also shows that while Eliot is a drunk, he is loved and welcomed by Rowena's very large and loving African American family.
     All of these factors lead to a custody case where a stately family judge played beautifully by Paula Newsome must decide on Eloise's fate.

Who Would Like it and Why
This is an all-star cast. Mpho Koaho plays a delightful example of African intellectual superiority as Duvon Araga, the tutor Eliot hires to teach Eloise and drive him places.

He knows nine languages and has a graduate school grasp of mathematics at age 19. He is an interesting character to throw in, and it demonstrates the drastic difference between Africans and African Americans.

Anthony Mackie, a favorite of mine, from Hurt Locker, the second Captain America, and Eight Mile, plays the high-powered, high achieving lawyer and family member of Rowena who tries the case.

This character shows the range of Mackie who played a thug in Eight Mile who gets out-rapped by Eminem. He also played the thug drug dealer who has his hook into Michael Douglas' daughter in traffic. Here Mackie is all business as driven lawyer who strikes fear in the hearts of Eliot's all white law team. He is articulate and purposeful in this character.

The casting of Jillian Estell was great because you can the power this beautiful mixed-race child has over everyone because of her cuteness and beauty.

Who Might not Like it and Why
The one problem I had with this script by Mike Binder is that Eloise's father, Reggie Davis, Played by Andre Holland, seemed to be a bit stereotypical. 

He was a crack-addicted criminal who referred to himself as a "street (N word)" while courting Anderson's daughter. He impregnated her and moved on, another negative stereotype in the black community.

When he shows up in the movie, he looks awful and wants money so he can get high. 

Everyone in the movie yells at him and slaps him and he messes up the simplest of things. I felt that one this was a very stereotypical character in a script filled with otherwise complex characters. 

I felt that everyone was acting so harshly towards the addict that he had no choice but to turn towards the warm comfort of drugs again. This aspect of the movie could have been handled better.

Highlights/Top Scenes
Costner's overall growl as an aging, grumpy lawyer who loves his grand daughter was great. Every scene between him and Eloise was believable and touching.

Koaho stole the show comedically as the brilliant tutor who had written a paper on every possible subject. A genius.

There was a bit of a show down between Rowena and the family judge, two strong women. It seemed as if by the end of the hearing they had a mutual respect for one another.

Three Mike and Ikes

The Interview

Director: Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen

Lead Actors: Seth Rogen, Jams Franco

Producer: Kyle Hunter

Plot Synopsis: Dave Skylark is a popular talk-show host who is constantly in search of approval. He gets this approval from his millions of fans but not from the East Coast intellectuals who ridicule his show for being, basically, a bit of a fusion between Jerry Springer and Montel Williams.

This doesn't eat at the ever jolly Skylark as much as it does his producer, Aaron Rapaport, played by Seth Rogen.

There is a scene in which Rapaport runs into an old acquaintance from college who is working at 60 Minutes and he ridicules the poppy work that he and Skylark are doing. 

This drives Rappaport to seek out a big fish interview. Hey, it helped Nick Frost get some respect when he landed Nixon, didn't it?

But the big fish Skylark and Rapaport end up getting is arguably a much bigger fish than Nixon after he resigned from the oval office.

Skylark and Rapaport find out that Kim Jong Un, the Supreme Leader of North Korea, is one of Skylark's biggest fans. Rapaport makes some calls, badda bing, badda boom - suddenly these two clowns are on their way to North Korea to bag the interview of the century.

The only catch is that the CIA wants some of the action, and they 
want Skylark to kill Jim Jong Un. 

This is where we meet the ever beautiful and entertaining Lizzy Caplan, in her role as Agent Lacey. Lacey must have banked her whole career on Skylark and Rapaport being able to assassinate Kim Jong Un, because she sticks to the project with unrealistic conviction

If at one point she doesn't proclaim "You guys are idiots" with her words, she does so even more effectively with her beautiful eyes.

She and her deadpan sidekick go over, and over, and over what's supposed to happen, all the while having to know that the stoner duo from Pineapple Express are going to royally screw things up!

Who Would Like it
Anyone in touch with the news will know the drama that went along with getting this movie to be released on Christmas Day. 

They are familiar with how Sony Studios mishandled terrorist threats. They are also familiar, probably, with some of the extremely juicy bits of insider information spilled from a massive hack on their e-mails, perpetrated, allegedly, by North Korea, in retaliation for this rich satire.

So, if you haven't seen this movie yet, and you know the story, there is the reward of seeing what all the hubbub is about.

But when you finally actually watch the movie pound-for-pound, you realize that it is political satire laced with "the most powerful ecstasy you've ever had" - to borrow a line from Franco's Skylark. 

This being said, it is basically burp, pee, poo poo and fart jokes set amidst the possibility of assassinating the annoying and dangerous Kim Jong Un.

Under capitalism, South Korea has prospered and risen to the number 10 economy of the world, while North Korea struggles with country-wide famine, among other things.

The writers of this movie: Dan Sterling along with Rogen and Goldberg do touch on some of the political drama. They also let the outside world into their frat party. . . in one scene Bill Maher watches the actual interview with disgust and perhaps a bit of envy.

Who Might not Like it and Why
Well, Kim Jong Un of course! But I think the actor they chose did a good job all the same. His name is Randall Park.

I think people who are not a fan of stoner humor might struggle with this as well. The first half of this movie is nothing but crude jokes revolving around nothing more than the human anatomy. But, if you invest in the ride, it pays off. 

There are beautiful women, gun fights, tank chase scenes and the most boring Oscar award ceremony host in the world actually proving he is funny.

Highlights/Top Scenes
There was a montage where Un and Skylark are falling in love and bonding on fathers who don't understand and a public that just doesn't get them. It starts with a game of basketball and ends with an orgy with westernized Korean girls. That was funny and well done.

There is also a sequence wherein Rapaport has to intercept a small package that a drone drops off in North Korea. That too is funny.

Three Mike and Ikes.