Probably not worth an internet-based conflict

In an alternate reality The Interview is an important film, one with a sardonic lock on North Korea’s uncomfortable existence while satirizing the regime with an old fashioned approach to propaganda. Instead, in this reality, it’s an internet famous international incident featuring Seth Rogen sticking high value espionage merchandise into his rectum.

Hilariously, but still.

The Interview bounces from the fictional “Skylark Tonight,” a senseless tabloid talk show where stars Seth Rogen and James Franco can reunite from This is the End to slather more entertainment stars in self deprecating humor. With the insertion of political lines, Franco’s barely cognizant Dave Skylark demeans the suite of real TV talk show pundits in a (obviously) politically thick comedy.

Off Skylark goes – with producer Aaron Rappaport (Rogen) – to North Korea for a live interview with the country’s dictator, Kim Jong-un (as interpreted by Randall Park). Franco & Rogen may be poster mates and box office attractors, yet it’s Park as North Korea’s smarmy, manipulative leader who ambushes this film, stealing much of the comedic thunder. He only needs to insert himself into the scene rather than insert objects, well, “there.”


The Interview misses the point by turning the fascist into the brighter star. Park’s Jung-un mocks every motion and action, turning the appointed ruler into a smartly controlling numbnuts who – mostly – trounces America’s unfortunate journalistic weapon. Skylark is such an imbecile as to be implausible even for a movie of this degrading stature.

Unlike the rich history of Hollywood’s war propaganda, The Interview isn’t meant to inspire a nation to arms. Movie audiences are instead pulled away from the country’s atrocities. It’s easier to force them into unseen background events or draw some dialog parallels less the movie actually aim for a touch of bravery.

… it’s unsuccessful nationalist masturbation without much fight but plenty of undeniable energy.

If anything, the only thing The Interview gives audiences to playfully hate is Kim Jong-un’s Katy Perry obsession. It is the geeky means of combat, using words, tech, smarts, and hands-off methodology to smother the opposition into helplessness. To that end, it’s unsuccessful nationalist masturbation without much fight but plenty of undeniable energy.

Evan Goldberg and this raunch-heavy writing team pour on the sexual and foul mouthed routines en masse, landing in their comfort zone if executing it all with a touch of too much enthusiasm for the material. At two hours and stuffed with a litany of obvious alternate takes, The Interview begins to crumble between those moments of success. All of its excess drowns out a number of low-grade if funnily done bits prior to the mammoth action set piece which provides needed closure.

The fun should be watching Rogen & Franco out idiot one another from a weak, barely ideological script against the comparatively modest Park. But, in-between, there’s a vacancy calling for any level of substance. In 20 years, The Interview’s true behind-the-scenes jumble of internet exposes and threats of violence will be infinitely more interesting (and remembered) than this soggy farce.

Movie ★★★☆☆