by Coop Cooper
The most controversial film of the 21st Century has been released. Was it worth all that fuss? Of course not.
Cheesy entertainment talk show host, Dave Skylark (James Franco), and his producer, Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen), suddenly find their meager show getting a lot of attention when rapper Eminem spontaneously comes out of the closet, live on their show. With their sudden boost in ratings, celebrities begin to come onto their show to air out their darkest secrets. When they find out that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is a big fan of the show, they land an interview with ‘The Supreme Leader’ who has recently detonated the country’s first nuclear bomb. The CIA sends Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) to Skylark and Rapaport to convince them to assassinate Un (Randall Park) for them which they reluctantly accept.
Other than the fact it’s embarrassingly dumb, “The Interview” has a lot in common with the much reviled “Ishtar” (1987). Two American doofuses in a hostile foreign land peddling entertainment and accidentally changing the world while trying to be funny. Of course the rest of the plot is predictable. The guys screw up the assassination and find out that Un is a spoiled nerd with way too much power who desperately wants to be cool (but deep down is as much of a psycho as his father). These two guys are actually playing the part that Dennis Rodman played in real life and that’s more sad than funny.
James Franco is basically channeling a moronic, non-homicidal version Heath Ledger’s Joker from “The Dark Knight”. He even dresses like him (sans the makeup). He’s so zany and insufferable, he never quite redeems himself in the second half. Seth Rogen tries to play the straight man here and seems to find himself constantly pointing out and belittling every gross and ridiculous word coming out of Franco’s mouth.
This film has the same brand of humor as “Tropic Thunder” (2008) so fans of that brand of comedy would appreciate “The Interview” the most. There are some funny bits: The ever-failing poisoned handshake. The finger-biting. The interview itself. Park’s give-it-his-all performance. Katy Perry…. But unlike “Team America” which made fun of the North Korean regime in 2004, the film isn’t smart enough to be subversive. Heck, even the “Red Dawn” remake was able to stick it to North Korea without reprisal (although that film ironically received a multi-million dollar reshoot in order to not offend China).
Fallout continues from the Sony hack perpetrated as a result of this film. Sony execs pulled the film from release after theater owners banned it due to 9-11 styled threats made by the hackers. After being publicly chastised and shamed by President Obama, George Clooney and most of the United States and other allied nations, Sony caved to pressure yet again and gave the film a limited release in independent theaters and online pay-per-view. As of Monday December 29th, the film has made $15 million from online rentals alone… a new record for Sony. Due to the release flip-flop and the apparent instant online success, conspiracy theories have begun to crop up that this whole incident was fabricated by Sony and the U.S. Government (however, that’s a ridiculous theory considering the public relations damage caused to those entities).
Last week the North Korean internet was mysteriously been disrupted and there have been no further retaliations by the regime or the hackers, but this film caused more trouble than its worth in entertainment value. The original Sony hack is still causing waves, most recently with the revelation that some executives didn’t want to make films with African American stars, like Denzel Washington, because they didn’t make as much money overseas. I suspect the bombshells will continue to drop, ultimately leading to the firing of the current Sony Pictures execs or their humiliating resignations as they certainly don’t deserve any credit for the film’s online success.
The Kim Jong Un character does say something interesting about halfway through the film… “You know what’s more destructive than nuclear bombs? Words.” That’s the only part of “The Interview” that gave me a chill down my spine for its uncanny prediction of the real-life events that unfolded. Oh the irony!
Rating: 2 out of 5