The InterviewBy Wilson Morales
With all the hoopla surrounding the killing of a living world leader in a film, at the end of the day, Sony Pictures’ satirical film, The Interview, starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, is nothing more than a comedy that loses its steam and jokes more than halfway into the film. With the exception of a great opening scene that hooks you in, the rest of the film feels like a Saturday Night Live sketch that went longer than it should with the writers having no where to go after the laugh meter reached its peak early.
Directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Franco plays Dave Skylark, host of the popular TV show “Skylark Tonight,” where Rogen is the producer, Aaron Rapaport. The hook of the show is that Skylark is able to bring on celebrities and secrets are revealed. Although the show has had a good run for nearly 10 years, Rapaport longs for more to his career, especially when a colleague doesn’t think his success would even get a “credible” job at “60 Minutes.”
Skylark offers to do something different that would please Aaron and help their show. He suggests to go after North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, who happens to be a great fan of the show. As he likes to say, “Haters gonna hate, and ain’t-ers gonna ain’t.” Never in their wildest dreams did they believe that their request would be granted, and when it is, the show is not only expected to get bigger ratings but the government wants in on the action. A visit from CIA Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) gets the interest of the guys, up until she suggest that they, with their access to Kim, go in James Bond style and kill the world leader.
Once they arrive in Pyongyang and meet with Kim (Randall Park), all bets are off as Dave starts to have second thoughts. As the host of the show, he’s assigned to get close to Kim to gain better access to insert, via a handshake, a deadly poison without being suspected should the mission succeed. Having spent time with the leader and going over each other’s fear, including Kim’s love for Katy Perry’s ‘Firework,’ Dave starts to feel a connection he didn’t get with Aaron. When Aaron starts to see that Dave is being star-strucked, sidetracked and forgetting how Kim is starving his own people, he starts his plan by getting closer to Kim’s minister Sook (Diana Bang). Once Dave and Aaron get back on the same page, it’s a matter of whether they can complete the mission without Kim discovering their true motives and acting like the murderous dictator he’s portrayed himself as.
From their early days on the short-lived TV series Freaks and Geeks to Pineapple Express to 2013’s This Is The End, Franco and Rogen have a great chemistry and could be talked about being the next Dean Martin/ Jerry Lewis, but with this film, despite its cancellation and resurrection, fails due to its writing. This slapstick comedy starts off strong but at nearly two hours, two-thirds of the film feels like a long, boring and overdone SNL sketch. When all else fails, the film switches gears and becomes a violent action film. There are no laughs, no cheers, and no applause by the time its ends. It’s crass, bloody and unappealing. If anything, Franco and Rogen will do another film together, and as the saying goes, “Better Luck Next Time.”