It’s hard to watch this without thinking about the controversy surrounding it. However, if one can strip away all the politics and the threats and the email leaks, The Interview is just another comedy that isn’t funny enough. It doesn’t have the silliness of Spies Like Us, American Dreamz or the satirical smarts of Team America. It’s surprising as writer Dan Sterling was an executive producer on The Daily Show, which would probably come up with more laughs in a short segment on the same subject.
Dave Skylark (Franco) is a presenter of an entertainment show that revels in its bland interviews with celebrities. Encouraged by a former classmate to do something worthwhile, and hearing that Kim Jong-un (Park) is a fan of the show, producer Aaron Rapaport (Rogen) seeks out an interview with the North Korean leader. Granted a sit down for the cameras, the hapless duo are approached by Lizzy Caplan’s CIA operative with a mission to assassinate President Kim – Skylark is to shake hands with Kim with a lethal toxin in his palm. However, once in Pyongyang Skylark finds Kim not to be the maniacal despot the media paints him as and rethinks the mission…
Working from an idea by Rogen and Goldberg, who have yet to top Superbad, The Interview at first is aware that the comedy can come across like propaganda and tries for something approaching balance. Kim rules over a starving nation and imprisons thousands in concentration camps, but Franco’s Skylark is a bottom-feeding moron with a tenuous grasp on reality. That North Korea is poor because of US sanctions is brought up too. But true to form, that’s all forgotten about: Skylark is a fool but an American fool and the expected F**k, Yeahisms eventually become the message.
With some bizarre developments that don’t sit well with the tone – fingers are chewed off – The Interview eventually loses the run of itself towards the close and descends into an action comedy that’s limited on both fronts; Rogen and Franco, exhibiting some annoying facial contortions, obviously forgetting the misfire that was Pineapple Express.
That’s not to say there aren’t laughs to be had – Eminem and Rob Lowe show up in fun cameos and Randall Park entertains as the Supreme Leader, an insecure, Katy Perry-loving guy with daddy issues - but this was an opportunity lost do something really interesting.
Ron Burgundy interviewing Kim Jong-un? Now that would be a comedy.