Dave Skylark (James Franco) and producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) run the celebrity tabloid show “Skylark Tonight.” When they land an interview with a surprise fan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Randall Park), they are recruited by the CIA to turn their trip to Pyongyang into an assassination mission. (source)
You may remember The Interview as the film that actually provoked a response from North Korea, who have denounced the film as “dirty and cursed”. Then there was the massive Sony leak, which is rumoured (or has it been officially proven?) to have originated from North Korea, in direct response to the objectionable concept of this film. There is no doubt that the concept and story is provocative – two representatives of the American media meeting up with the Supreme Leader of North Korea with the intent to assassinate him. It’s not surprising that an insular dictatorship would find a story like that upsetting. At one point it seemed like this film was never going to be released, though, which would have been wrong. I won’t get political here but suffice to say, censorship ain’t right. Which is why I was very pleased indeed to see that it was able to be streamed online, where it would arguably get more viewers anyway.
I have to say, I don’t often laugh at the Seth Rogen type of comedy films. But The Interview was kind of funny. There are jokes about butts and feces and genitals and a whole bunch of racism but they land more than they miss, believe it or not. After actually laughing at approximately the twentieth dick joke it occurred to me that this one silly film may have caused the massive meltdown of a multinational, billion dollar company. It boggles the mind. A film containing stupid jokes about Asian people and hiding projectile missiles in rectums might have made that Sony leak happen. It’s just too ridiculous for words.
Back to the film, Rogen and Franco are the ultimate duo and tend to complement one another well. I would say that on the whole, Rogen is actually funnier, as Franco’s abrasive media personality schtick has the tendency to slightly annoying at times. But Rogen’s humour is more dry and cynical, which I enjoy. Randall Park is also quite excellent as Kim Jong-un, and I really looked forward to his scenes. There’s a distinct lack of him in the trailer, presumably to avoid further criticism, but his scenes really are the best (update: there are some moments with Mr Kim in this version of the trailer). Diana Bang and Lizzy Caplan also put in nice performances as the general female sidekicks to the film.
What is also enjoyable about The Interview are the little things, such as a brief cameo by Joseph Gordon Levitt cuddling puppies, Eminem admitting his latent homosexuality in a tell-all interview, and some sharp editing and direction that creates a believable party atmosphere. There are also great musical interludes throughout, sampling catchy rap music, both modern and classic. The set design and general visuals of life in North Korea are done very well. I find North Korea a pretty fascinating place and even though we didn’t get to see too much of the everyday lives of North Koreans, the brief sneaky peek we did get to see was really interesting.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed The Interview. As aforementioned, this type of comedy isn’t normally my bag, but there was something about this that was inherently watchable. Perhaps the fact that there was so much crazy news about it implored me to keep watching to see exactly what the fuss is about. The concept is probably more tasteless than it should be, given the current political tensions that exist between the US and North Korea. But at the same time, this is one silly film that is clearly not meant to be taken seriously, and should not be censored. Ultimately, there are some solid laughs in this that make it well worth the watch, particularly if you enjoy filthy humour and political provocation.
Watch the trailer here.