DIRECTORS: Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogeninterview

CAST: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, Randall Park, Diana Bang, Timothy Simons, Anders Holm, Charles Rahi Chun, Ben Schwartz

RUNNING TIME: 128 mins

CERTIFICATE: 15

BASICALLY…: Chat show host Dave Skylark (Franco) and producer Aaron Rapoport (Rogen) are invited to interview North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (Park), and find themselves caught up in an assassination plot…

 

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

When discussing The Interview, there’s no avoiding the elephant in the room. This, after all, is the film that caused a major hack into the systems at Sony Pictures, the film that was momentarily shelved after threats of deadly attacks on the scale of 9/11 were placed on American cinemas, and the film that recently led to co-chairman of Sony Pictures Amy Pascal stepping down from her post in the wake of the cyber-attack and its brutal after-effects.

In the end, was it all worth it? For a film where both James Franco and Seth Rogen expose their raging erections at separate points? If the North Koreans have that to worry about around the clock, then it’s doubtful we were in any real trouble to begin with.

The Interview, as itself, is mostly a lad’s comedy that just happens to partially take place in the most dangerous country on the planet. As one may come to expect with this kind of film, there are plenty of sex gags, bodily function gags, swearing, and even a little bit of nudity thrown in for good measure. A conversation can’t seem to go by without passing reference to certain private parts of the body, which shouldn’t be that much of a bother but for a film that has been so prominent in the news over the past few months you can’t help but feel just a little underwhelmed.

Rogen, also acting as co-director with regular writing partner Evan Goldberg, plays more of a straight man role than we’ve seen him in for a while, and though parts of the film threaten to squander into self-indulgent territory – an early solo trek to China provokes bad memories of Hector and the Search for Happiness – Rogen doesn’t quite tread those grounds and keeps things fairly muted. Franco, on the other hand, seems to be much more animated than usual, and is left to do most of the mugging as the increasingly incompetent talk-show host-turned-assassin with the majority of the gags. Leaving a far bigger impression, however, are both Randall Park and Diana Bang as the film’s exaggerated version of Kim Jong-Un and fictional North Korean press secretary Sook respectively. Park manages to find something utterly pathetic yet surprisingly human in this movie’s take on the North Korean dictator, able to play both the master manipulator and the terrifying tyrant very effectively; while Bang, a Canadian actress with a fair handful of screen credits to her name, goes all out in this fearless role and bags some of the bigger laughs because of it, commanding the screen and matching its over-the-top and boisterous tone perfectly.

That’s all we can really honestly say about The Interview as a movie without thinking of other things, especially what it has most famously been the centre of. Having seen it, we certainly feel that North Korea – if they are indeed behind the Sony cyber-attack – overreacted hugely to such an otherwise mild and borderline offensive political comedy. Even the scene they took most offense with, wherein a certain event happens to Kim Jong-Un near the conclusion of the movie, is brutally misconstrued in Western eyes, and further proof that the North Koreans probably lack the sense of humour we have – after all, a more recent and higher-profile British-American film featured Barack Obama’s head exploding in a very romanticised manner, and nobody gave a toss. We have obviously learned to not take jokes and fictionalised versions of real people so seriously, something which Kim Jong-Un and his ruthless power grasp has not.

In the end, The Interview and its unfortunate handling by Sony Pictures will sadly see one conclusion in its foresight; Hollywood will become more reluctant to take this great a risk, to a point where systems and people’s privacy are compromised by foreign enemies. For example, don’t expect Warner Bros to greenlight a film with Russian President Vladimir Putin as its main baddie anytime soon, nor Universal to make a movie about ISIS, and so on. If this really does occur, this will be The Interview’s legacy – and for a film that features as much juvenile frat-boy humour as Bad Neighbours (though nowhere near as bad), it’s even more embarrassing than it already it.

SO, TO SUM UP…

The Interview is an instance where its controversy and public exposure overshadows the film itself, which is nothing more than crude sex gags incorporated into a political satire, and despite committed turns by supporting players Randall Park and Diana Bang it never entirely fulfils its hype or potential.