TV host Dave Skylark (James Franco) is shocked to hear that his gossip show has an unexpected fan; North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Randall Park), and hatches a plan to score an interview with the famed dictator. When the American government learn of the interview, they have different plans, and convince Dave and his producer Aaron (Seth Rogen) to murder Kim Jong-un.
The Interview, just in case you have forgotten, was pulled from a US cinema release after a massive hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, and hackers’ threats that compared their retaliation to The Interview getting a release to the 9/11 attacks on New York. The film was released on VOD instead, and made $15 million within four days, but audiences at this side of the pond have the dubious pleasure of seeing the whole shebang on the big screen, as intended.
The story has tons of potential for comedy and absurdity; the idea that journalists would be called upon to murder a world leader certainly sets itself in a world that is not ours, but it makes a warped kind of sense. Dan Sterling’s screenplay, however, quickly turns The Interview into yet another Seth Rogen/James Franco vehicle, filled with crass humour and over the top situations. There are moments that make comment on the nature of life in North Korea, but these are generally so overblown that any statement made is lost in poop gags and over the top bros bro-ing out.
Rogen and Franco settle into their roles well – shouty panicky guy, and self absorbed idiot, respectively – and it in on this buddy relationship that the film is based. Of course, conflict is introduced through the seemingly cool and down to party Kim Jong-un, and this is where the film dissolves into silliness. The supporting cast – Lizzy Caplan, Reese Alexander and Diana Bang – all do their best, but they are fighting a losing battle against an unfunny script, unnecessary uses of Katy Perry songs, over the top violence for the sake of violence and continuous references to other films.
As directors, Rogen and Evan Goldberg prove that the genuinely entertaining This is the End may have been a fluke for them; the focus is on set ups for gags and any other commentary – parodying Dennis Rodman, speculating as to conditions in North Korea – is left to whither and die. The Interview was never going to be a ground breaking political movie, but since the film is set in North Korea, and there is comment made about the tyranny of the leader, then these jokes and comments should have been allowed to land before being dismissed.
In all, The Interview is exactly what you might expect from a film starring Seth Rogen and James Franco; overblown bromantic comedy that tries to make a larger comment and fails, while managing to be unfunny, not clever and uninspired. Still, watch it if you are so inclined cos, freedom y’know!?