The Interview: Film Review
Cast: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Randall Park, Lizzy Caplan
Director: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore"
Peter Finch in the movie Network and the hackers who threw Sony into disarray have a lot in common in The Interview, which has been the target of either a very smartly chaotic marketing plan or the embodiment of all that is evil in the cinema.
However, with all manner of pre-publicity and talk threatening the launch of The Interview, it's certainly gathered some momentum, with shades of the rather un-PC Team America and South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut thrown in for good measure.
James Franco once again over-acts as the sharp-suited, false-smiling Dave Skylark, the presenter of a news talk show that deals more in tittle tattle than hard news (witness Eminem coming out on the show and Rob Lowe revealing he wears a wig in obligatory self-deprecating cameos) but scores big in the ratings.
However, his behind-the-scenes guy Aaron Rappaport (Seth Rogen in usual laid-back stoner form) is rattled when at a celebration for 1,000 episodes, another news show producer rails at him for the cheap and tawdry nature of his show.
But the manchild boys are thrust into the limelight when they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un is a fan of the show and has granted them an interview. As they prep to head to Pyongyang, the CIA (lead by a largely sidelined Lizzy Caplan) demands they kill Jong-Un for the good of the world....
The Interview is as scabrous, puerile and as scatalogical as you'd expect from the team who brought you Pineapple Express.
Ineptitude and goofiness, as well as all things anal consume the uneven script as Franco and Rogen continue their on-screen bromance to largely comic effect. Mixing in racism and a sly piece of satire on the state of the Buzzfeed and continuing celeb obsession of our culture, The Interview works as a piece of comedy that's designed to entertain, occasionally offend and nothing else.
Franco's over-acting initially grates, but proves to be the perfect antidote to the situation in Pyongyang as the star-struck Skylark falls under the spell of Randall Park's apparently insecure, margherita loving, Katy Perry Firework adoring, B-balling Jong-Un (sound familiar, Dennis Rodman?); his resistance to carry out the assassination plays nicely against Rogen's uptight caught-in-the-headlights stooge and gives the comedy the broadness and low-hanging fruit it panders to. Their continued eminent likeability helps you through the odd moment that feels crass and base as this frat-based relationship head abroad.
Caplan's horrendously sidelined in a film that throws out the line "This Is 2014, women are smart now", so perhaps that's a blessing; and Park deserves some credit as the Supreme Leader, channeling moments of Dr Evil-like insecurity, general madness and adding more of a dimension to a character that could have just been a broad parody. Even America and their domestic policy comes under scrutiny, so the writers have ensured that it's not just North Korea who's in the firing line.
With a third act that goes for as much violence and a slow-mo helicopter destruction shot that's clearly going to upset the North Korean leader and nation, The Interview has nowhere to go but up its own butt (an analogy I expect those involved in the film will delightfully relish) and into familiar OTT action territory.
And yet, it's unshakably funny, ribald and pointless to rail against The Interview.
Rogen, Franco and Goldberg have certainly got some cinematic balls to take this on given the furore that Sony's currently enduring; but they've got some even bigger balls to have produced something that manages to avoid the majority of its excesses and turn them into something that seems tame in comparison to outrage that's been levelled at it.