After one of the most mind-boggling release events in film history, The Interview now stands for way more than it originally planned to cover, which was very little. It’s the latest Seth Rogen and James Franco bro comedy, keeping up the trend of satirising stuff with all the nuance of a dick joke, only it nearly got everyone killed by aggravating the North Korean leadership to the point in which they declared the movie as an act of terrorism. But when the smoke cleared, many were disappointed. The Interview was accused of not living up to the hype of its near-apocalyptic reception, even though it had no actual responsibility to do so, given that it existed well before it became a hotbed of controversy. Because the North Korean ruling powers were so offended by it, certain critics expected that Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg had somehow suddenly become satirists on the level of Stanley Kubrick and Terry Southern, with one review even weirdly comparing it to Dr. Strangelove.
This is a bizarre train of thought, given that these were the guys who made Superbad (in which a woman leaks period blood on a guy’s leg), This is the End (involving various characters pissing in their own mouths) and Bad Neighbours (where Dave Franco can get an erection at will). Essentially, The Interview presents America and North Korea as two countries in need of having their heads bashed together (with the media being completely responsible for it all), but that’s just a foundation for more crass humour from a bunch of guys who have made a living from crass humour. In the context of Rogen and Goldberg’s joint filmography, it isn’t their greatest work, and is rather disappointing following the high point of Bad Neighbours, but it’s still a good laugh, even if it does lack the inspired humour of earlier movies such as Knocked Up and Superbad.
Franco plays Dave Skylark – in a typically showy and insufferable performance from the noted human parody – who hosts a tabloid talk show that strives to cover, say, Eminem coming out as gay (in the hilarious opening sequence). He manages to land an interview with Kim Jong-un (an excellent Randall Park), which involves travelling to Pyongyang with his producer Aaron Rapoport (a mature Rogen, as he works best); but despite befriending Kim, Skylark has been tasked with the North Korean president’s assassination, ordered by CIA Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan, fantastic as usual, if underused), which initiates a war of deception that successfully plays upon the charisma of the controversial leader. This all leads to an extended climax that is gloriously over the top, comically and violently, with all the movie’s jokes culminating in a funny yet disturbing final interview. Lampooning both nations in equal measure, The Interview is less a work of propaganda than a blunt parody of propaganda itself, settling for irreverence over real political commentary in its completely preposterous story arcs and butthole comedy.