The Sony hack came unannounced and certainly as a surprise to everyone (especially Sony) by a group of hackers who call themselves the Guardians of Peace. With this leak came the release of private information, leaked movies, such as Annie, and a string of bad publicity targeted at the studio. Most notable, and the most important reason behind the leak was all because of a little comedy by Seth Rogen and James Franco called The Interview, which focuses heavily on trying to assassinate the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
The film, which was scheduled for a Christmas release, was cancelled after the hackers threatened a 9/11-style attack on every theater who screened the film. After initially never planning to release the film anytime in the near future, and after being called out by several in Hollywood and even the President, Sony thankfully retracted its decision and released the film in select theaters and video on demand. Is The Interview worth risking lives over? Not really, but it’s still good to see that creative freedom wasn’t silenced permanently.
Dave Skylark (James Franco) is a TV show host and he gets a lot of high-profile talent to appear on his show like Eminem, Rob Lowe, and Joseph Gordon Levitt (all make cameo appearances). Essentially, the show is a social media magnet, used to perpetuate gossip and be the first to reveal secrets not previously revealed anywhere else. Dave’s best friend Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen) is the producer on the show and at the 1000th episode party, Rapaport is confronted by a 60 Minutes producer mocking his inability to produce serious journalistic material.
Taking it to heart, Aaron claims that Dave should start interviewing more serious people like politicians, authors, etc. After finding out that Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) is a fan of “Skylark Tonight,” the two of them are invited to conduct an interview with the Supreme Leader in Pyongyang, North Korea. Of course, the interview is to be completely conducted using questions that Sook (Diana Bang), one of Kim Jong-un’s people, wrote up and no questions are allowed from Skylark’s side. Of course, everything gets even more complicated when CIA Agents Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) and Baldwin (Reese Alexander) seize the opportunity at having someone enter North Korea and ask Skylark and Rapaport to kill Kim Jong-un.
For all the trouble that this film went through to finally be seen, it doesn’t seem worth it. I mean, the film involves Rogen and Franco, and the irony of the whole situation and at having North Korea be involved (albeit not as fans) is just the strange cherry on top. Was threatening people worth it over cheap laughs? Of course not, and if you’re accustomed to Franco and Rogen’s humor, then you knew from the beginning that there was nothing to get riled about. The comedy duo take a serious political situation, take some big risks, and only end up with it being half funny.
For the first half of the film, Franco’s Skylark and Park’s Kim Jong-un stroll around like they’re BFFs. Both are misunderstood, want to be taken seriously, and have the same kinds of insecurities. Of course, Skylark doesn’t have immense power and doesn’t act like a five-year-old on a power-tripped temper tantrum, but the seeds of similarity are there. So Skylark is the most surprised (and really, he’s the gullible idiot in comparison to Rogen) when Kim Jong-un shows his true colors.
The beginning of the film starts off on the wrong foot, with Franco interviewing Eminem and his character trying to come off what can only be called as a stereotypical gangster in order to match up with Eminem. Franco’s character is annoying at first and it takes a while for you to really warm up to him because he’s just trying too hard to be funny. Of course, being a Rogen and Franco film, the two take advantage of their public bromancing throughout the entirety of the movie’s almost two-hour run time.
But it’s once the CIA gets involved that things really start to pick up and some of the jokes start to stick. The scenes between Franco and Kim Jong-un are funny enough to keep you entertained and Rogen’s attempts to make Franco see reason are constantly thwarted simply because Skylark is probably the epitome of stupidity. Rogen’s ultimate pairing with Diana Bang’s character, who’s awesome in this, is a bit unexpected but garners the right comedic momentum that the film required in its finale.
Did this film deserve all the unexpected hype that it garnered? No, but if you’re looking for mediocre laughs and a comedy that takes enormous risks surrounding a very touchy subject, then you’ll enjoy The Interview well enough. It brushes on a lot of different political aspects in a comedic approach, but it’s not enough to particularly be called a parody. Rogen and Franco spend a lot of time bitching at each other, but their bromance is ever present regardless. Kim Jong-un is half portrayed as a misunderstood guy with daddy issues and then as a psycho dictator who only cares about making his people think he’s a god, and the switch between the two is also humorous. Overall, a mediocre comedy that can be watched from the comfort of your own home (since it’s only out in limited theaters anyway).