Before it became the epicenter of an international incident
or threatened to cripple a major movie studio, The Interview was just a goof of an idea, and that’s what it
remains. Calling it satire is elevating it beyond its status as a supremely silly
comedy, but it did make me laugh.
When Seth Rogen and his longtime writing partner Evan
Goldberg exploit an idea they hold nothing back. It’s that willingness to go to
extremes that makes The Interview so
funny at times. I wish they would learn to edit themselves, but it’s all or
nothing with these guys, so if they overplay their hand and indulge in a level
of crudity that’s way beyond my comfort zone, there’s nothing to be done about
it. My repayment is more laughs than any other comedy has offered lately.
The film opens with James Franco doing a broad parody of a
TV interviewer, talking to an admirably straight-faced Eminem. It progresses
with Franco’s producer and pal Rogen deciding to reclaim his credibility as a
newsman by trying to land a worldwide scoop: an interview with North Korea’s
notorious Kim Jong-Un. To his shock, it turns out that the dictator is a fan of
Franco’s, and the deal is made. At this point the CIA enters the picture,
hoping that these screwloose TV emissaries will use the opportunity to
assassinate the leader.
Randall Park abandons all inhibitions as Kim Jong Un,
playing him as a vulnerable, huggable, even teary-eyed fellow who just happens
to be sitting on a nuclear powderkeg. It’s a fearless comedy performance that portrays
the dictator as a master manipulator when it comes to Theater of the Absurd.
The Interview isn’t
as consistent as one might like, but Rogen and Goldberg are not great story
constructionists or master filmmakers. They fared somewhat better as the co-directors
(and writers) of This is The End, but
that was tame compared to the firestorm they ignited with this endeavor. You can feel the energy draining by
the time the film concludes, but The
Interview still has many built-in laughs to its credit.
Is a real-life dictator with a nuclear arsenal an
appropriate target for comedy? In today’s world nothing seems to be off-limits
and ridicule is perhaps as valid a response as any to a man who positions
himself as a deity. Rogen and Goldberg take pains to indicate that their target
is Kim Jong-Un himself, and not the people of North Korea, whom they portray as
But The Interview is
not a message movie, goodness knows. It’s a ludicrous comedy and nothing more. I
don’t imagine that Rogen and Goldberg ever envisioned that their movie would
make history as it has.