Dick jokes and politics. Gay Eminem and a North Korean dictator without a butt hole. Take a controversial issue and strip it down to sophomoric humor along with heavy, heavy enunciations from James Franco. Ladies and gentlemen: The Interview!
Seth Rogen plays the stooge in his second directorial feature — a classic double act film — and Franco stars as the comic (think The Hunger Games‘ Caesar Flickerman with a foul mouth). As the producer for “Skylark Tonight,” Aaron Rapaport (Rogen) dreams of tackling heavier topics, but his long collaboration with host Dave Skylark (Franco) has earned the duo a reputation as thoughtless navigators of pup culture fluff. After an awkward encounter with a former classmate and fellow television producer, Rapaport shares his concerns with the slick-talking Skylark, who makes a wild proposition but does so with an endearing grin. Together, they hatch a plan to interview Kim Jong-un (Randall Park).
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The Interview provides numerous laugh-out-loud moments with a relentless assault of sexual innuendos; it’s like a 112-minute collegiate road trip where each passenger attempts to be more outrageous until somebody finally hollers out, “We should make a movie about this!” Fortunately (or unfortunately) for Rogen and directing partner Even Goldberg, they DID make a movie where the stooge says things like “Me so sorry!” The Interview features the usual content from Rogen, but the North Korean angle allows dialogue such as “Do not move, homie!” to stand out (the term “homie” is fading slowly amongst 20-something white people in America). The Interview is an alternate world fantasy for would-be stars where beautiful women pay attention (Lizzy Caplan as Agent Lacey/Diana Bang as Sook) along with important cultural figures, and everyone just has a good time. In fact, there’s a scene featuring Rogen’s less-than-unique laugh (a stoner laugh) as he drinks beer and takes selfies with others.
But who was expecting a grand statement from The Interview? The satirical comedy highlights the idea of Kim Jong-un as a God-like figure to his people but spends more time making fun of the man through his bromance with Dave Skylark. The truth will be revealed but only after a few renditions of Katy Perry’s “Firework” and deep talks about daddy issues. As the North Korean leader poignantly conveys to his over-the-top American friend, “You know what’s more destructive than a nuclear bomb? WORDS.”
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The Interview will impress many when the mood turns serious, but these faux-moments of shrewdness come only after the non-stop, over-the-top antics from James Franco. I think Rogen was hoping that his character’s reactions to Skylark’s often nonsensical humor would provide for endless quoting, but the frat house formula doesn’t quite work well enough for The Interview to become a modern comedic classic.
Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.