Genre: Action, Comedy
Directed by: Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, Randall Park
So it looks like James Franco and Seth Rogen didn’t instigate World Ward III after all. After all the hacking, the threats of war and the whole “will they/won’t they” back and forth shenanigans by Sony, The Interview was released and guess what, we’re all still here. Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s pseudo-political satire about the assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un by a moronic TV host and his producer, was at one point the most important cultural artifact on the planet.
James Franco plays the brash and bombastic talk show host, Dave Skylark, who along with his hapless producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) runs the TMZ style celebrity tabloid talk show ‘Skylark Tonight’. When they discover that the North Korean dictator is a huge fan of the show, the pair land an exclusive interview with the infamous despot in an attempt to legitimize themselves as serious journalists. Dave and Aaron’s plans soon change however, when the CIA recruit them to assassinate the North Korean leader.
Given the film’s somewhat checkered trajectory to the big screen, you would think that we would have a satire that’s equal measures scathing and hysterical. As it turns out, The Interview is neither as funny nor as scathing as it thinks it is. Unlike its far more successful predecessor, the gloriously wonderful Team America: World Police, which hilariously poked fun at all things including Kim Jong-il, Rogen and Goldberg’s film relies far more heavily on a predictable narrative, crude humor, and jokes involving sticking large metal devices up Seth Rogen’s butt.
Despite this, there are a few laughs to be had. Once our heroes arrive in Pyongyang, things begin to liven up considerably. Randall Park is terrific as Kim Jong-un, and his likeable demeanor and budding friendship with Franco’s Skylark lend a strange depth and humanity to proceedings. Both Skylark and Kim share an affinity for the simple pleasures in life, including the works of Katy Perry. It would seem that Kim Jong-un, like his dad before him, is just “so very ronery.”
The biggest crime that The Interview perpetrates is just how predictable and bland it is; everything is played as safe as can be. Considering the goldmine of a concept Rogen and Goldberg have stumbled upon, it’s even more surprising that they didn’t push the satire more, instead opting for mere convention by the film’s action packed final third. Lizzy Caplan’s CIA agent is confined to the sidelines for the majority of the film and given little to do except provide debate for Franco and Rogen over whether or not she’s “honey-potting” them. Despite a few mild laughs here and there, one can’t help but smell the studio executive looming over the directors’ backs, keeping a close eye on them and making sure they don’t stray too far from the party line.
So, while The Interview didn’t start World War III or cause the breakdown of free speech in the Western world, it’s a shame to say that the film is mostly a disappointment; a mildly amusing anecdote in the long torrid affair of the Sony pictures hacking scandal.