By Greg Lewis
By now there is probably few people who have not heard about a little film called The Interview and the cyber hack that occurred at Sony as a result of the film’s North Korea themed subject matter. While the official word is that North Korea was behind the cyber attack (though more than a few people will debate this) what is less disputable is that this satirical comedy is really not worth all the fuss.
The latest farce from frequent collaborators Seth Rogen and James Franco, The Interview casts Franco as an obnoxious but popular talk show host who specializes in fluffy, spastic interviews with showbiz celebrities. Rogen is his put-upon producer who often cringes at Franco’s exploits but is his best bro nonetheless. After learning that the notorious North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of his show, Franco has Rogen arrange an interview. Sounds hilarious right? Though it is good for a chuckle that the notoriously eccentric and volatile leader would secretly be an American kitsch-loving tv junkie, the laughs only get fewer and far between once the CIA enlists these two jackasses in a plot to assassinate the dictator.
Once the two arrive in North Korea, Franco is quickly swayed by the manipulative dictator’s charade of being a misunderstood demigod who just wants to kick it with his bros, serve the best interests of his countrymen and secretly harbor a sensitive, Katy Perry-loving side. Franco’s goes full jackass for his tour through NoKo with Jong-un. Rogen’s character on the other hand immediately sees through the dictator’s charade and is soon joined by insurgents in Jong-un’s own party that want to overthrow the despot.
The entire film is an inconsistent misfire, from the performances to the sets, which veer from impressive looking to ridiculously micro-budgeted. Though the film is not without its laughs (rapper Eminem makes an especially amusing cameo) most viewers will ask themselves why such an over-the-top, scatter-shot film could rankle the ire of North Korea enough to provoke such a hostile retaliation. After all, didn’t South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and Uncut mock Saddam Hussein in similar fashion? It is not until near the end of The Interview when it suddenly takes a decidedly darker, violent tone that this becomes more understandable.
Unlike "South Park," these aren’t sock puppets we’re dealing with here. Many will undoubtedly question how smart a decision it was to make a film with live actors about the bumbling attempts to murder a still living dictator. Perhaps the biggest issue raised from this film will be the debate that it has caused as to how media conglomerates should respond to terrorist threats. The film itself unfortunately will not leave a very lasting impression. Simultaneously released in theaters and VOD (an unusual move for a studio), The Interview is sadly not worth the price of theater admission nor the considerable cost of its fallout.