Controversial North Korean comedy is all hype, no bite

Has there been a more recent film surrounded by as much controversy, discussion or utter fascination as Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s North Korean comedy “The Interview?”

What started out as nothing but a killer premise (no pun intended) by its directors and screenwriter Dan Sterling (“The Office,” “King of the Hill”) resulted in the leak of private information, anonymous terroristic threats and the United States declaring sanctions on the communist nation.

After Sony declared that it wouldn’t release the film on a national scale, the public seemed to be split right down the middle: Half airing on the side of caution, while the other half was outraged at the company caving into the threats.

However, Sony did allow theaters to show the picture if they desired, and put the film up for stream and download on iTunes, YouTube and Google Play. I ended up opting for the iTunes rental, and with all of the build-up surrounding it, I couldn’t have been more excited to finally get the chance to watch it.

Now that the hype has dialed back, what did I think of the movie?

I believe that “The Interview” will be remembered as many things: A cultural landmark in the defense of artistic integrity, a milestone for United States’ sense of gung-ho-patriotism and a prime example of how “any publicity can be good publicity.” Sadly, however, I can’t see many declaring it as a biting piece of comedic satire.

For those unaware of the film’s controversy, “The Interview” follows the pair of Dave Skylark (James Franco), the outlandish host of celebrity gossip program “Skylark Tonight,” and Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen), the show’s manager.

After 1,000 episodes together, Rapoport feels beaten down, with less journalistic integrity than ever, and approaches Skylark about pursuing more respectable news, leading him to score Skylark an interview with Kim Jong-un (played fearlessly by Randall Park, “Veep”).

Before the two can venture to Pyongyang, however, a CIA agent played by Lizzy Caplan (“Mean Girls”) approaches them about assassinating Kim during their visit, turning their mission into something completely unexpected.

What’s most disappointing of all is that “The Interview” has the potential to be Rogen & Goldberg’s sharpest film to date, but unfortunately spirals out into a disappointing mixture of stale jokes and malevolent attitude.

In a much funnier farce, “This is the End,” the pair commanded the screen with non-stop laughs from start to finish from a script they penned themselves. However, the material given to them doesn’t deliver nearly as much as one would expect from a writer of this caliber.

Additionally, it pains me to say that James Franco’s role as Dave Skylark in this film is one of the most thoroughly unlikable comedic characters of recent memory.

Franco, an actor whose work I’ve come to adore in films like “127 Hours,” “Spring Breakers” and “This is the End,” can’t stop to take a break from spewing obnoxious vulgarity for one minute to come up for air.

All hope isn’t lost, however. Like I mentioned, the set-up is fantastic and Rogen & Goldberg, despite the material given to them, do what they can. Rogen is surprisingly subdued throughout most of the film, and it  is always nice to see him take a step back into a supporting role. Park and Caplan deliver just what they need in their respective roles.

However, a slate of solid performances isn’t enough to save “The Interview” from being more than just a film that will be remembered for all of the wrong reasons.

This entry was posted on Monday, January 12th, 2015 and is filed under A&E. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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