Watching the completely feckless and puerile outing that is The Interview (2014) is to watch the death of a bromance. Seth Rogen and James Franco have worked together onscreen for nearly two decades. In that time, audiences have watched these two actors become a formidable comic duo, delivering some of the most screwball comedies in recent memory. With this latest outing, there’s no shortage of idiocy and it rarely ever works. Perhaps the vain hope that audiences would continue to tolerate the mind-boggling lack of competence or construction of proper comedy is what drove Rogen and Franco to create The Interview.
Rather, they have delivered a film that is not only socially ignorant but a complete snooze of a viewing. Dave Skylark (James Franco) is a cheesy pop culture journalist, often relegated to covering the most inane celebrity news. His producer, Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen) is stuck running Skylark’s show and commiserates with Dave when the cameras aren’t rolling. Both men desire greatness in their own ways but have no means of achieving it. When the opportunity to interview North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) arises, Dave leaps to seize it. As Aaron and Dave make preparations to fly to Pyongyang for the interview, they are approached by CIA agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) who delineates the need for their assistance in an assassination plot on the nefarious dictator. The two men accept the offer, but will they succeed?
There is very little to redeem this idiotic venture into socially-conscious comedy. Every bit of dialogue is filled to the brim with fatuousness and watching each of the otherwise adept actors utter said dialogue is cringeworthy. All of the frat-boy-cum-hip jokester camaraderie that fuelled Rogen/Franco flicks like This Is The End (2013) is on its last legs here. Every punchline is deflated; Rogen and Franco appear to be scrambling to latch onto any possible laughs. Add to that an offensively rendered version of North Korea and this film is simply dead on arrival. When done right, even racial stereotypes in comedy can, arguably, be an asset to a comedy film. But the portrayal of Asian culture here is nothing but bland and tasteless.
The North Korean accents employed by the Asian actors are vaudevillian and rote, the whitewashing of the current affairs of North Korea (where poking fun at the propaganda and mistreatment of the people hardly counts as acknowledgement) is appalling. Watching Dave speak in a mock Asian accent and make fun of Asian culture, even having moments to remark at how cool North Korea appears to be stand out as added salt to the proverbial wound. The Interview is simply unwatchable. Don’t be fooled by the top billing of Rogen and Franco: they star in one of the most tone-deaf comedies in recent memory. Special awards should be given to those who can make it past the first half hour because if making this film required special time and attention, then watching it will require feats of Herculean patience.
Allie Gemmill | @alliegem