Does the writing and directing team that comprises of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg possess the requisite satirical, razor-sharp observation skill to successfully tackle a TV duo being enlisted to interview, and kill, Kim Jong Un? The straight answer is no, it does not. If you’re expecting a witty foray into how this may go down, then you should look elsewhere. If you want a sort of Superbad-ish, “Knocked Up” version of these events then you’ve come to the right place.
Yes, James Franco and Seth Rogen play the star and producer of a hit TV show designed to dumb down America. In one of the film’s funnier moments, Eminem plays himself as a guest star with an unexpected secret, and another cameo is interrupted as it’s revealed that the North Korean dictator announces he’s a fan of the show, and of its host Skylark – played by James Franco.
Rogen and his writing team use this curious springboard to cram as many dick jokes into the screenplay as possible. There’s a glimmer of hope that Rogen and co. may have wised up from the silliness of their previous efforts – that is, until the script demands that he shove a beacon up his behind to evade potentially spooking their North Korean hosts.
Franco, in particular, is doing a stellar job of continuing his “most annoying character any movie, ever” streak. It all began with Springbreakers; but here, in the Interview, he dons a purple jacket and channels the very worst of dumb Jim Carrey-ville. He could well have been a budget Joker is Heath Ledger wasn’t around. His character, Skylark, is an absolute twat – and echoes of Dennis Rodman’s none-to-recent ambassadorship to North Korea sets up a lightweight subplot where Kim Jong Un and Skylark actually become friends – to a point.
Which leads me quite nicely to what I did like about the movie. Randall Park plays Kim Jong Un fairly well, although he doesn’t exactly look like him, and the relationship between the two leads is fairly well drawn, albeit with slightly homosexual undertones. Park flits between cosy, cuddly dictator and ruthless, spoilt brat relatively convincingly. Skylark’s character threatens to bounce outside of pure parody, but is continually halted whenever he’s back with Rogen, who draws his character back down to reality – which is ultimately a bad move. There are other characters who appear and vanish with alarming frequency – not least Lizzy Caplan’s out-of-her-depth CIA agent, who’s all but out of the film when the daft assassination sub plot finally kicks in.
The best section of the film is when a character has to keep his hand open (I won’t go into detail) to avoid killing himself and anyone who could come in to contact with him. Hitchcock’s famous line about the bomb being under the table seems to be understood by the players as Rogen avoids contact, and this scene unfurls into an unusually long encounter with a North Korean ambassador in a hotel room. Just be having this device in his palm, it ups the ante in so many ways until the gag is strung out and wrung dry before we even give too much of a toss about how it plays out.
Then, there’s the last act. It needs to be big, loud and dumb – and it doesn’t disappoint; particularly on the last count. The bigger, underlying problem of the movie is its resolution. What do Rogen and co. think they’re saying with an ending like this? I’m not sure I like that, and if I were a mad megalomaniac, I’m not sure I’d like it, either.
But who cares, right? As long as it makes a quick buck. Not since The Blair Witch Project has such a tremendously forthright internet campaign been utilised. Everyone and their pet dog now wants to see the movie. It’s a so-so effort, but with such an imaginative marketing campaign, you have to stand back in awe and applaud. They must have known that this would have caused a ruckus between the US and North Korea.
After all, didn’t precisely the same public outcry occur with Team America World Police ten years ago? Oh… it didn’t. Maybe it wasn’t about the publicity at all, then
Author: Andrew Mackay