Would anyone have ever guessed that a movie starring James Franco and Seth Rogan would be a beacon for freedom of speech and national pride?
Likely not, but following the Sony hacks by the self-dubbed Guardians of Peace, and subsequent terrorist attacks on theatres that screen The Interview, directed by Rogan and Evan Goldberg, that’s pretty much what happened. Even though it didn’t follow its original traditional theatrical release, the Streisand Effect was in full force anyway and now The Interview has gotten more attention and probably had more viewers in its first few days of availability than it would have had none of this happened.
Dave Skylark (Franco) is host of Skylark Tonight, an entertainment tabloid show, and revels in his popularity as someone who can get celebrities (Eminem, Rob Lowe) to reveal personal secrets. His producer, Aaron Rapoport (Rogan), desires a more serious career path. They compromise when they find out North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) is a fan and they arrange an interview with him.
Franco has said Dennis Rodman’s visits to North Korea helped provide a touch of realism to this plot. And as we see when Kim takes centre stage, also likely heavily influenced some of the scenes as well.
When Skylark and Aaron arrive in Pyongyang, Skylark is requested by Kim to meet prior to the interview. He soon realizes that the leader of North Korea isn’t the evil dictator everyone says but essentially a bro with a sensitive side. Skylark’s kinda guy!
Hilarity ensues and the rest pretty much writes itself.
It’s not a particularly strong plot and it suffers from a lazy ending, which is what led to the hacks and threats in the first place.
Franco’s character is incessantly irritating. Skylark is a bumbling idiot. While that was the intent, the degree of which he is is frustrating and impedes on everything else. Most of his dialogue would best be suited for 15-year-olds looking to kill brain cells, which makes little sense for an R-rated movie.
There are enough funny moments to carry it though, but the lows that mostly centre around Skylark outweigh the highs, which often involve Randall Park as Kim and, strangely enough, Firework (yes, the Katy Perry song).
The Interview isn’t a lost cause though. It has generated some interesting discussions for and against the creation of a comedy film in which the US assassinates an actual living world leader, and the hypocrisy of whether Americans would allow or support such a film to be made involving a US President. After all, there was some reaction to the fictional documentary Death Of A President.
It’s just not as exciting or good as the hype and news attention surrounding its release would indicate. There were expectations, sure, but Rogan and Goldberg’s last film, This Is The End, is easily a step above, though it’s still worth seeing just to see what the fuss is about. The Interview is, on one hand, unarguably a risky move, even if it hadn’t resulted in what did happen, but on the other hand, it is weakened by its own execution.