The Interview Review

The Plot:

A cocky TV chat show host and his good intentioned producer manage to secure an unlikely interview with the reclusive North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. They are quickly persuaded by the CIA to use this historic opportunity to discreetly assassinate the ‘supreme leader’ for the good of America and the world. But when they arrive in the infamously secretive state things don’t exactly go to plan.

The Good

Randall Park plays North Korea’s infamous leader Kim Jong-Un as a deranged cry baby with daddy issues and a secret penchant for fruity cocktails and Katy Perry. Lurching from soft spoken vulnerability to crazy screaming tyrant it’s a convincingly delusional caricature. Park plays the notorious ‘supreme leader’ almost like a more rotund Mr Chow from the Hangover. In truth it’s not a difficult challenge to mock the reclusive dictator as few people outside of the North Korean military elite have any real concept of who Kim Jong-Un truly is. Park essentially has free licence to make him as maniacal or pathetic as he likes.

Seth Rogen and James Franco have a well-practiced chemistry based on a simple but effective formula of offsetting Franco’s smug charms with Rogen’s oafish likeability. The pair is undeniably well typecast as obnoxious host Dave Skylark and his increasingly disillusioned producer sidekick Aaron Rapaport. They trade innuendos and moronic banter with all their usual enthusiasm.  It isn’t sophisticated or subtle but it is at least often amusing.

Overall the film benefits from some snappy action montages, a catchy soundtrack and a few memorable gags. It even manages to coin the term ‘honeydicking’ as an unlikely catchphrase.

The Bad

Without the immeasurable hype created by the Sony hacking scandal and the studios seeming hesitation to subsequently release the film, it’s doubtful interest in a low brow Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy vehicle could ever have been this high. Fans of the duos trademark unapologetic mix of dick jokes and drug addled buffoonery will certainly enjoy this latest offering. However it may not be enough to satisfy those watching the film just to see what all the diplomatic fuss is about.

Comedy and satire have always been powerful weapons against oppression, evil or tyranny. Reducing symbolic figures of hate and fear to the level of common ridicule is a laudable aim. Unfortunately The Interview often fails to deliver the kind of biting political satire optimistic audiences might have hoped for.  The comedic potential provided by propaganda fuelled dictatorial regimes is largely squandered in favour of jokes about hiding things in your ass and lazy pop culture references.

Rogen and Franco deliver exactly what you’d expect, but it’s fair to say that the film could just as easily have centred on a fictitious country and dictator. The potentially daring choice to actually make a comedy about North Korea really adds little to the film beyond absurd international controversy and the resulting mostly unnecessary hype. Whatever this film has to say about North Korea, it’s important to remember Matt Stone and Trey Parker said it first with Team America.

The Ugly Truth

The Interview is a satisfying slice of silly slapstick, though it’s very unlikely to win awards or actually change the world. It’s not hard to see why North Korea weren’t amused, but the rest of the world just might be. In truth the film is likely to divide opinions between those who welcome poking fun at Kim Jong-Un and those who feel a little disappointed that this only comes in the form of a ludicrous James Franco comedy. Possibly the funniest thing about The Interview is that it actually somehow managed to start the world’s first major cyber-war.


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