Review: The Interview

the interview movie poster one sheetNo film has garnered as much controversy this year than the crass, sophomoric comedy The Interview, about American interview TV show host Dave Skylark (James Franco) being invited to North Korea to interview leader Kim Jung-Un (Randall Park), just be tasked by the CIA to assassinate Jung-Un. This is the film that almost wasn’t released: Production company Sony Films was allegedly hacked by North Koreans and warned not to release the film. They capitulated and five days prior to release announced the cancellation of the film. Then the day before Christmas — its scheduled release date — Sony announced that The Interview would be released both into theaters and through various video on demand channels, including Google Play and YouTube.

Unfortunately, it’s not worth the wait or drama. In fact, The Interview is a stupid movie that could have been amusing but ends up so stuck in the sophomoric, the worst of modern American humor that trades wit for drunken banter and sexual banter, that it’s quite forgettable.

The film starts by documenting the ten year, 1000 episode Dave Skylark Show, hosted by Skylark and produced by his best friend Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen). Rapoport bumps into a former classmate who’s now senior producer on 60 Minutes and that gets him thinking about serious journalism, so when Skylark bursts into his office to share that North Korean supreme leader Kim Jung-Un loves Big Bang Theory and The Dave Skylark Show, they contact the North Koreans to request an opportunity to interview Jung-Un.

CIA agents Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) and Botwin (Reese Alexander) appear on Dave’s doorstep and insist he conspire with them to assassinate Jung-Un while interviewing him, through the device of a poison Band-Aid he’ll wear on his hand when shaking the leader’s hand. Comic mayhem ensues while Skylark and Rapoport are being trained on how to deploy the bandage, peppered with a non-ending stream of vulgarities and innuendo.

Skylark (James Franco) with Jung-Un (Randall Park), from "The Interview".
Skylark (James Franco) with Jung-Un (Randall Park), from “The Interview”.

When they arrive in North Korea, predictably everyone in country is portrayed as half-witted, including the officious head of security Sook (Diana Bang), who speaks in the pigeon English that characterizes all Asian characters in the movie but dresses in tight skirts. They’re driven past a corner market full of fresh produce on their way to the dark, forbidding palace, but are things what they seem? Jung-Un seems a hip bro, and the day he and Skylark spend together certainly seems to suggest he’s one of the guys with his private basketball court, expensive sports car collection, legion of scantily clad buxom Korean women and personal tank.

A taste of the humor comes when they’re in the tank, “given to my grandfather by Stalin himself,” to which Skylark responds “Why you say “Stallone” wrong? You just messin’ with me, bro?”. Turns out that the supreme leader loves driving around with his tank and hides a secret affection for Katy Perry songs and margaritas. Or does he?

And that’s about as good as the film gets. There are some chuckles in The Interview if you can overlook the never-ending crass attempts at humor. There’s the kernel of an amusing film in the vein of Spys Like Us, Johnny English or Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, but it never comes to fruition. The Interview‘s a bust. Skip it.

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