Release date: 6 February 2015
Running time: 112 min
Directors: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, Randall Park
We all know the story behind the release of The Interview by now. To recap, Seth Rogen and directing partner Evan Goldberg made a comedy about a pair of bumbling journalists and their attempt to assassinate the Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un. The North Koreans labelled the film an act of war, Sony Entertainment was infiltrated by a group of online hackers, and American cinema chains got nervous and cancelled screenings, leading to Sony pulling the plug on its theatrical release. After all that ballyhoo the film now washes up on British shores, allowing us to see what all the fuss was about.
In the end, all that was achieved was the drumming up of some free publicity. With images of dictators with their finger on the button, and cyber criminals attempting to bring down Hollywood, audiences will no doubt flock to see The Interview out of morbid curiosity if nothing else. Sadly the film doesn’t contain anything close to as interesting as the stories around its turbulent release.
A biting piece of political satire this is not. Rather than bringing down oppressive regimes, at its most biting it has a dig at the shallow journalism behind late night talk shows. The biggest laughs come from the early scenes in which James Franco’s TV hack, Dave Skylark, interviews a variety of Hollywood B-listers, each with their own bizarre revelations.
Sadly the humour dries up by the time Skylark and his producer Aaron (Rogen) touch down in Asia for an interview with the mysterious political figure. Presumably Rogen and Goldberg were relying on their depiction of the infamous dictator- a Katy Perry loving, megalomanic with daddy issues- being hilarious enough to carry the film from there. They were wrong. Randall Park’s send up of President Kim rarely produces more than a polite chuckle.
Proceedings aren’t helped by a leading duo who seemed set on reprising characters from previous films. There is undeniable chemistry between Rogen’s cynical, sweary, klutz and Franco’s naive simpleton, but it doesn’t offer anything new. Throw in a couple of completely out of place montages of drug fuelled partying and it is clear we are in all too familiar territory. For all the controversy, it turns out to be a very standard piece of crass modern comedy. The North Korean regime would have been better off ignoring it completely and allowing it to slink into obscurity.