As a result of the controversial Sony hack, The Interview was already infamous before it was legally released in the U.S. last December. Seth Rogen and James Franco’s comedy has already been widely criticised as offensive and racist for its portrayal of North Korea and Korean dictator Kim Jon-Un. While these opinions are one-hundred percent justified, the film is also so completely ridiculous and cartoonish that I don’t understand how anyone can possibly take it seriously. Franco is Dave Skylark, host of the tawdry late night talk show, Skylark Tonight, with Seth Rogen as his producer and closest friend, Aaron Rapaport. Aaron decides he wants to be taken seriously as a journalist and transform Skylark Tonight into a more credible, political talk show. As luck would have it, the supreme leader of North Korea just so happens to be a huge fan of Dave’s show, allowing Aaron and Dave to secure the world’s most coveted one-on-one interview. If that weren’t outlandish enough, Aaron and Dave are contacted by Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) from the CIA, who coerces the two into assassinating Kim Jong-Un (Randall Park) on behalf of the American government. Ugh, Lizzy, don’t you realise that you are so much better than this film?
The guys are flown to North Korea, armed with a tiny patch of poison designed to kill Kim Jong-Un when Dave shakes his hand. I have to admit that I actually laughed out loud as Dave tried to practice a casual handshake but ended up looking like he was attempting a magic trick. Things get complicated once Dave actually spends time with Kim and the two begin to develop what can only be described as an odd, slightly homoerotic bromance. At one point the two discover they have a mutual love of Katy Perry and deep-seated insecurities about their professional image. Aside from the copious Lord of the Rings references, the most perplexing motif The Interview uses is the song ‘Firework’, which (spoiler) plays in the background during a slow-motion explosion that kills Kim Jong-Un. I am not making this stuff up.
The Interview is not a smart film, and I don’t think it tries to be. The film makes use of immature, low-brow humour, but while I don’t have a problem with crass jokes, I kept waiting for a clever social commentary that never came. The few times I actually laughed were mostly because of the absurdity of the film and it made me realise that perhaps I was expecting too much from Franco and Rogen. There’s a good chance that you will finish this film and ask yourself, “What the fuck did I just watch?” Dave defends Skylark Tonight by claiming that, “People want shit”, and it made me think that those words could have easily been the pitch to actually get this weak script made. But maybe I’m just “peanut butter and jealous”. Direction: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg. Screenplay: Dan Sterling Story: Seth Rogen, Dan Sterling, Evan Goldberg.
Review by Tegan Lyon