Written by Dan Sterling / Directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen / Starring James Franco, Seth Rogen and Lizzy Caplan
Dave Skylark: They just hate us cuz they ain’t us.
Ah, THE INTERVIEW – an ill conceived, naive attempt at satire that could have possibly ended the world. It is almost impossible to see the film through any filter other than the one that marred the film in controversy in the weeks leading up to its release. On some levels, watching James Franco and Seth Rogen trample all over the North Korean government, delighting in their supposed subversiveness for our amusement, is actually, and surprisingly, quite fun at times. That said, taunting the world’s most unstable regime, one with nuclear capacity at that, for the sole purpose of profit and a few dick jokes, seems like an idea that Sony Pictures should have pondered more seriously before giving it the green light. Regardless of whether THE INTERVIEW comes and goes with little notice or whether it starts WWIII, its peculiar struggle to be seen has enhanced what would have been a mediocre movie at best to a level of irreverence Franco and Rogen surely never imagined.
Naturally, the controversy makes it very difficult to criticize THE INTERVIEW fairly but here I go all the same. First though, we begin with the premise that inspired all the fuss to begin with. Rogen and Franco, a pairing that consistently amuse the 15-year-old boy in me, are together again; this time, Rogen plays television producer to Franco’s entertainment television host. When the twosome are feted for producing 1000 shows, regardless of their value, Rogen is reminded that he once had a dream to be a serious journalist. This simple and rather obvious plot point is provided the opportunity to become a reality when Franco discovers that North Korea’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, is a huge fan of his show. Rogen somehow secures an interview with the notoriously reclusive leader and before he knows it, they are both enlisted by the CIA to kill Jong-un once they are given this rare access to him. Hijinks, or nuclear war, ensue.
I will readily admit to laughing a fair amount while watching THE INTERVIEW. I will also readily admit that this was in part due to how ridiculous the controversy surrounding this film has become. It is so hard to believe that such a flimsy film like this could cause such unrest. The film is paper thin; in fact, it is barely a fully realized film at times. It is simply nothing more than two goofballs doing what they do best, acting like complete idiots for our enjoyment. Unlike previous outings like PINEAPPLE EXPRESS and THIS IS THE END though, this time, their antics could get us all killed. That said, their antics are rather uproarious at times so we can all have a good laugh before being annihilated. Kudos to Rogen for continuing his pursuit of directing (with frequent collaborator, Evan Goldberg) but Franco is the big winner here. As the shallow, oblivious “journalist” looking to improve his popularity standing, as well as his legitimacy as an interviewer, he is completely unhinged and unexpected.
No matter what predicament they find themselves in, Rogen and Franco always seem like they are having one hell of a good time, which is, for me anyway, often completely infectious. Sure, THE INTERVIEW is often sexist and even more so culturally insensitive, but this isn’t new. This brand of humour frequently pushes buttons; it goes there specifically to make people uncomfortable so that they might in turn ask themselves why they actually find this funny. THE INTERVIEW does at times bring to light how absurd relations with and ideas of North Korea truly are, but it doesn’t leave any teeth marks. And if you’re going to go after a country that you know could easily lose its cool over your taunting and finger pointing, then you had better go all in. This is especially true when losing one’s cool means launching a nuclear strike.