Dave Skylark and producer Aaron Rapoport run the celebrity tabloid show “Skylark Tonight.” When they land an interview with a surprise fan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, they are recruited by the CIA to turn their trip to Pyongyang into an assassination mission.
‘The Interview’ comes into UK cinemas on the back of a great deal of media attention relating to the Sony hacking incident at the tail end of last year. For those who have been living on the moon for the past few months, Sony were the victim of an attack by hackers (blamed on North Korea, although this is unproven), which seemed to be driven by the making and impending release of this film, a satire on North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-un. There’s an argument to be made about the suitability of creating a film about a key current leader, especially one that takes such liberties with its storytelling – even Sacha Baron Cohen’s superior ‘The Dictator’ had the sense to create a fictional leader. With that in mind, it’s ultimately disappointing that the film isn’t the uproarious satire that its infamy might suggest.
The film stars James Franco as ‘Dave Skylark’, a popular TV presenter in the US, known for his interviews with a variety of stars (one of the early sequences features an interview with Eminem playing a version of himself, which is easily one of the best bits of the film), and Seth Rogen as his producer, Aaron. After discovering that Kim Jong-un is a fan of his show, Aaron arranges an interview, which then leads to the CIA setting a plan in motion to get Dave and Aaron to assassinate Kim whilst on their visit. The premise itself is sound and opens up possibilities for an interesting political satire, but the script is less focused on biting satire and more on juvenile humour and borderline racism to drive the story.
In terms of the performances, James Franco is particularly grating as the awfully annoying Skylark and his ‘attempt’ at creating an over the top TV personality shows off his worst tendencies as an actor. Franco has shown in the past that he can be a talented actor but his attempts here only serve to create one of the most irritating characters I’ve had to endure on screen for some time. In terms of the better performers, Randall Park is very good as Kim Jong-un, creating a nuanced portrayal that manages to rise above the poor material. Unfortunately the nature of the script sidelines Park for much of the film at the expense of the buddy comedy escapades between Aaron and Dave. The broad swipes at satire would be more forgivable if the film surrounding it was funnier, but the few good lines over the runtime are easily forgotten amidst the muddled plotting and Franco’s dreadful performance.
Overall, ‘The Interview’ fails to live up to the expectations caused by the uproar ahead of its release. A few funny moments aside, ‘The Interview’ is a poor comedy, a poor satire and a disappointly bland film.
Directed By: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Randall Park, Lizzy Caplan, Diana Bang, Timothy Simons, Rob Lowe and Eminem