What was all that fuss about, then?
The Interview certainly made an impact lately, to say the least. For a moment there, it looked like this Seth Rogen comedy was going to start WWIII!
Who would have thought that a film designed to royally piss off North Korea would end up royally pissing off North Korea?!
Indeed The Interview's basic premise, two idiots being hired by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong Un, clearly wasn't aiming for subtle political satire. I mean, if it was, talk about a major misstep! The film sees James Franco play Dave Skylark, the cheesy TV host of a trashy talk show, being invited by the Supreme Leader to interview him. Skylark and his producer Aaron (Seth Rogen) are soon hired by the CIA for a mission involving the killing of Un during the interview. Why the U.S. government would want two well-known morons to take on such a dangerous mission is unclear but I guess suspension of disbelief and all that. I mean, up to that point the biggest joke of the film was Eminem admitting on live television that he's always been (gasp!) gay so, again, this isn't exactly the sharpest satire out there and you shouldn't be expecting too much from it.
Once Franco and Rogen reach North Korea, the movie takes an interesting turn as Skylark becomes best buds with Kim Jong Un and starts to rethink the whole mission. Soon enough, though, the whole thing devolves back into really dumb territory with North Korea's president shitting his pants on live television before (um... spoilers?) being blown up to bits by a tank. Here's the thing: I like parts of this movie. Whenever Franco and Rogen are riffing off each other and doing dumb stuff, it's genuinely enjoyable. That said, the whole North Korea thing kinda kills the movie. It's far too current and political for those guys to handle and, really, it ends up being hugely distracting more than anything else. The comedy is lost in a sea of more serious topics and the script is nowhere near clever or funny enough to pull this concept off. It's obvious that the film should have made up some other country with some other dictator and had fun with that but they wanted that gimmick Team America tackled so well with Kim Jong Il. The latter worked because it made fun of everybody from Hollywood to North Korea to Michael Moore: everyone was literally a puppet, everyone was either a dick, a pussy or an asshole (to quote the film). Here, Rogen and Franco are still meant to be the righteous heroes throughout and the "good" North Korean characters feel patronisingly tacked-on.
This type of anti-fascism comedy either works or it doesn't. The Producers got it spot-on, Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator did a good job also, The Interview sadly falls flat. Franco is very entertaining throughout but the good jokes are too few and far between and Rogen's insistence on having endless montages of people partying in every single one of his movies is quickly wearing thin. For every good joke, James Franco and Kim Jong Un admitting to being Katy Perry fans in a tank for example, there's an unremarkable poo joke or something about Rob Lowe being (gasp!) bald or Seth Rogen having to insert a metal thing up his ass.
While the two leads are always likeable and the movie does have its moments, overall The Interview remains a bit of a misguided disappointment. It's worth checking out if only to see what all the press coverage was about but chances are we'll all forget this one except for the brouhaha it caused. As a political satire, it's clumsy, as a comedy it's hit-and-miss, as a trashily amusing piece of silliness...
It just about works.