Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's controversial comedy proves hugely disappointing
At a time when satire is an increasingly rare commodity, The Interview became a cause célèbre when Sony temporarily pulled its release after threats from cyber-terrorists. A fictitious tale of a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's silly film is hardly deserving of the term satire: it's more of a knockabout comedy in the vein of their patchy This Is the End.
Talk-show host Dave Skylark (James Franco) tries to boost his waning journalistic credibility by arranging an interview with Kim Jong-un (Randall Park). To the surprise of Dave's sceptical producer Aaron (Rogen), the despot turns out to be a secret Skylark fan, and invites Dave and Aaron over to North Korea. CIA agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) wants Kim dead and flirtatiously enlists their support, but Dave's commitment is weakened by his unexpected bromance with Kim, with the pair bonding over tank manoeuvres and listening to Katy Perry's 'Firework'.
A scene in the Rogen and Goldberg-scripted Pineapple Express in which Rogen and Franco cheerfully sell drugs to high-schoolers marked those involved out as aspiring provocateurs, and The Interview warrants some credit for occasionally addressing real-world issues; a store filled with cardboard goods, for instance, illustrates how the visiting media are fooled by apparent prosperity. But the humour is mostly crotch-level and initial bonhomie gives way to tiresome violence in a largely joke-free finale.
You don't have to be North Korean to be annoyed by this film. No subject should be above satire, but Rogen, Goldberg and screenwriter Dan Sterling have nothing to say about international politics, the seductiveness of power, or the shallowness of the modern media. Playing much like a brainless Adam Sandler comedy, complete with a slew of celebrity cameos (Eminem, Rob Lowe), The Interview falls far short of Team America: World Police's Swiftian wit, and simply doesn't deserve the attention it's provoked.
General release from Fri 6 Feb.