UK Release Date: 6th February 2015
Runtime: 112 minutes
Director: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Writer: Dan Sterling
Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Randall Park, Lizzy Caplan, Diana Bang
Synopsis: When an American talk show host is invited to interview the Supreme Leader of North Korea, the CIA recruits him, along with his producer, to assassinate the dictator.
At the tail end of 2014, there was an enormous international incident caused by something seemingly innocuous – a Seth Rogen comedy film. The Interview, which focuses on a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was said to be the reason behind an enormous hack of Sony Pictures data and terror threats against cinemas.
It got a limited US release soon after and finally reached British shores in February. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the film isn’t worthy of the international controversy it caused.
Talk show host Dave Skylark (James Franco) is riding high in the field of trashy TV, but his producer Aaron (Rogen) wants more serious journalism from the programme. After hearing that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) is a fan of the show, Aaron approaches his press officer Sook (Diana Bang) and is granted an interview. Before they fly out, however, the pair are approached by Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan), who recruits them to kill Kim.
| "This whole time I thought you were Samwise to my Frodo. But you’re just… Boromir."
Watching The Interview, it’s difficult to see why this film was seen as controversial by anyone. It does depict real people, but the world in which the film is set is so clearly a heightened reality that it’s about as realistic as the puppet world of Team America: World Police. There’s nothing here that could provoke any ire in a rational human being. In fact, as far as political commentary goes, it’s about as safe as humanly possible.
Unfortunately, this safe approach really undercuts what could’ve been incisive satire. Although, satire isn’t something that interests The Interview. In practice, the film is a standard Rogen-Goldberg comedy, keen on lavatorial humour over political barbs.
That, in itself, isn’t to the film’s detriment either, with the film getting plenty of cheap laughs from Franco’s gurning chat show host and Randall Park’s ridiculous portrayal of a Katy Perry-obsessed Kim. Rogen, too, is on top form as the straight man to Franco’s comic – playing his character’s bewilderment perfectly. Like the film’s audience, Rogen’s character can see how out of place he is in a world of CIA spies and deadly poison.
In fact, the central issue with the film is how inoffensive it is. In amongst the simple laughs and ridiculous violence, it’s difficult not to wish for something more exciting and edgy. The Interview is a perfectly solid comedy movie, but it should have been so much more.
| "Kim must die. It’s the American way."
As funny as it is, The Interview has suffered as a result of a reputation that creates the expectation of controversy. It’s a perfectly decent film, with laughs aplenty, but little in the way of edge. It’s eminently predictable, especially in the final third, and far too long at almost two hours, but there’s enough wit in the script to get it over the finishing line.
Pop or Poop?
There are two fronts on which to critique The Interview. As a straightforward frat boy comedy, it works. The script is witty in all of the right places, helped by a trio of great performances from Franco, Rogen and Park.
However, as a political comedy, the film falls short. For all of its fun and chuckles, it just isn’t sharp or edgy enough to work in that respect.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.