Comedy, Reviews

The Interview

The Interview

Copyright © 2014 by Columbia Pictures

Television host for ‘Skylark Tonight’, Dave Skylark (James Franco) and producer Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen) are flown to North Korea for a televised interview with Kim Jong-un (Randall Park). Before departing, CIA Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) has them convinced of assassinating Kim instead. As Skylark befriends the new ruler, his opinion on the autocrat wavers causing a rift between the Americans. Fearing the mission will be disrupted, Rapaport finds inadvertent help within Kim’s despotic administration.

Movies that provoke and mar themselves with controversy more often than not are either applauded for their steadfast believes or resented as a result of manipulating the feeble minded. Good or bad, any publicity derived from the infamy usually means a spike in awareness (and business – for the opening week anyway). Getting embroiled in scandalous acts of violence, gore and graphic risqué affairs in the bedroom is part and parcel for an industry known to stir the pot.

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, ‘Citizen Kane’, ‘The Exorcist’, ‘The Deer Hunter’ and ‘United 93’ are no stranger to the scrutiny and have made repeated appearances in the ‘Best of’ lists over the years. Faith-based films which dabble beyond the teachings of the holy book are far trickier and have met with a barrage of outraged protests from staunch worshippers (‘The Devils’, ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’, ‘Dogma’ and juggernaut ‘The Passion of the Christ’).

On the other hand, ‘The Day of the Jackal’, ‘JFK’, ‘Munich’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ have walked a fine line between entertaining and usurping the politics without undermining the audiences’ intelligence or abandoning logic in favour of style over substance. Political satires tend to poke fun but not necessarily as a means for any significant revolution in a country’s disparaging regime. ‘Inglorious Basterds’ takes a swipe at Adolf Hitler and witnesses a ‘permanent’ end to his cruel empire.

It is not as parody-worthy as say, ‘Zoolander’, nonetheless, it is Quentin Tarantino’s most acerbic. You do not see Malaysians or Germans being riled up with death threats and cyber-attacks pending their respective wide releases. Why should ‘The Interview’ be any different? Two words: Kim Jong-un. If Evan Goldberg and Rogen have gone the route of the Ben Stiller comedy (a fictional leader instead of an actual person), no one would have given a damn.

Where credit is due, give I will to them for boldly taking on the North Korean head by the horns but is one debacle after another that Sony has to endure worth all the fuss? As with their previous directorial partnership, ‘This Is the End’, crass trumps class. The jokes are uneven and they come in spades, so when they do hit the nail right on the head, you can bet your bottom dollar they will leave you in stitches. Would have been unexpectedly refreshing if the whiff of bathroom humour did not pervade as much as it did.

Marking their fifth time together, Rogen and Franco’s camaraderie serves as solid foundation to the show’s flimsy apex (Kim’s demise, while in slow motion feels rushed and nearly upends its robust start). They are joined by Park’s meek but callous version of Kim, which is only a few notches above Diana Bang who progressed from an allegedly stereotype to a woman disgusted by her ruler’s tyranny. To cap it off, sidesplitting cameos from Eminem and Rob Lowe are featured during Skylark’s sessions with his celebrity guests.

These interviews are exaggerated yet captivating if they are actually true. Anytime for a tell-all than a fake, scripted account of how wonderfully chirpy life in showbiz is. A brilliant concept in humanising (exposing) the supreme leader for his vile deeds. Is it enough to revolt for a change in North Korea? Probably not anytime soon but an eye-opener regardless.

Entirety: B
Acting: B+
Plot: B+

Rated R for pervasive language, crude and sexual humor, nudity, some drug use and bloody violence