Directors: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Screenplay: Dan Sterling
Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, Randall Park
Runtime: 112 mins
It’s hard to decide what’s more offensive: Seth Rogen’s constant reliance on silly slapstick, James Franco’s horrific overacting throughout, or the portrayal of Kim Jong-un as a Katy Perry-loving, childish, tantrum-throwing dictator. Probably the latter. The film features Franco and Rogen as TV chat host Dave Skylark and producer Aaron Rapoport, who are tangled up in a CIA plot to kill the North Korean dictator. However, the joke in this supposed ‘action comedy film’ is at the expense of a nation, as amongst the stereotyping and dodgy North Koreans accents, it is hard to believe this film was made as a light comedy, when the harsh reality is that thousands are suffering in concentration camps and have lost their lives due to this ruthless dictator. The writers even thought it appropriate to give Kim Jong-un a sob story. He describes how his father was disappointed in him and discouraged him from indulging in Katy Perry and Margaritas (which are apparently “gay”, who knew?) thus leading to his ruthlessness.
After the success of previous Seth Rogen and James Franco collaborations such as the funny in parts Pineapple Express and the brilliant This is the End, this film is a poor effort from both. Korean Central News Agency described the film as “the most blatant act of terrorism and war and will absolutely not be tolerated” which started a chain of reactions ultimately leading to America and other countries backing out of screening the film on a national level. The Interview does seem to scream a big “nuke us” from America and many have criticised how it has antagonised Kim Jong-un. At the same time, George Clooney, Barack Obama and countless others criticised Sony’s decision to pull the film out of cinemas. It is worth adding that this film is not a satirical comment on North Korea. It’s just a typical run-of-the-mill goofy Seth Rogen movie happening to feature Kim Jong-un.
The opening scene captures the perception of North Korea as a state hypnotised by Jong-un as a little girl sings to a mass of people in Korean with English subtitles “Die America, die!” and later “May your women all be raped by beasts of the jungle, while your children are forced to watch!” Again, it’s hard to decipher what is more disgusting: the graphically violent lyrics or the completely inappropriate use of exclamation marks. Another use of song is at the film’s climax when James Franco sings Katy Perry’s Firework horribly out of tune to Kim Jong-un during their live interview whereupon Kim Jong-un breaks down in tears and joins along in the merry karaoke. One can only sympathise with Katy Perry as she becomes the running joke of the film with the final montage (spoilers ahead for those of you who for some reason would pay money to watch this train-wreck of a film) which features Franco and Rogen shooting down Kim Jong-un in a tank to a slowed down version of ‘Firework’. Whilst this film does contain a few laugh-out-loud moments, noticeably a cameo from Eminem where he outs himself as gay on TV, they are sparse and few.
The Interview will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most controversial films of the twenty-first century. But it’s worth mentioning that it is not controversial in the same way Fight Club, Lolita, or Psycho was, it is controversial for the sake of being controversial. My only solace is that it is already on Netflix, so I didn’t have to waste any money seeing it in the cinema.