At the best of times, the filmmaking partnership of Judd Apatow school of stoner comedy graduates Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg isn’t to everyone’s taste. Their latest collaboration though, due to its controversial storyline, has caused a stir like no other leading to distribution complications with Sony Pictures Entertainment and the much publicised talk of nuclear threat against America. Whilst Rogen’s writing and directing bond with Goldberg continues off-screen, his bromance with James Franco grows on it, and the two play the leading roles of TV producer Aaron Rapaport and talk show host Dave Skylark respectively. When their show Skylark Tonight is lambasted for being cheap and only interested in throwaway celebrity culture, they set their target on a more serious news-piece to silence the critics and before long, an opportunity presents itself for Dave to interview supreme leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un. CIA Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) then intervenes, giving instructions to ‘take him out’.
An uneasy mix of politics and toilet humour, the style and the substance of the narrative couldn’t be further apart. The comedy often works but apart from the opening segment involving an excellent Eminem cameo, the strength is contained within the little gags and quippy one-liners rather than the more over-the-top setpieces. As crazy as this sounds, the plot actually gets more ludicrous as it develops, the two friends splitting off into their separate paths as Dave bonds with Kim Jong Un over their mutual love of Katy Perry while Aaron enjoys a lustful pathway with Kim’s regimented propagandist Sook Yung Park. Performance wise, I’ve seen Rogen and Franco on better form and though some of the dialogue is lazily written, it’s fun to see them bounce off one another. Lizzy Caplan brings her Masters of Sex sauciness to the table effectively, tossing herself into a minefield of innuendo. Credit should also go to Randall Park who takes the part of Kim Jong Un. His turn is brave despite essentially being a caricature and figure of ridicule.
For the film that could’ve started World War III, or so Sony would like us to believe, it is largely anti-climactic. More silly than side-splitting though it does have the odd moments of hilarity as well as surprisingly stunning cinematography when the story moves into Asian territory. Perhaps the ambitious premise is a step too far for the masters of juvenile joviality as it just wasn’t funny enough. Their next team project is a 3D animated comedy called ingeniously titled Sausage Party, which from the sounds of it will be much better suited to their line of work. ‘The Interview’ isn’t in the same league as Pineapple Express or the apocalyptic hit This is the End, but for avid fans of this knob-joke laden brand of cinema, it is worth downloading to watch in the comfort of your own home, or wait until it’s on Netflix.