Despite global interest, ‘The Interview’ turns out to be ridiculous and flawed

Scott Murphy, News Editor

Whether viewed as a satire of the atrocities of North Korea or simply as a typical comedy, The Interview fails miserably in both regards.

Without a doubt, the threats issued by the North Korean government and hacking of Sony Pictures significantly bolstered interest in the film, as initial trailers revealed a rather shoddy plot.

After Dave Skylark (James Franco) and Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) – host and producer (respectively) of talk show Skylark Tonight – schedule an exclusive interview with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, the CIA convinces them to utilize the opportunity to assassinate him.

The premise itself is ridiculous, and though suspension-of-disbelief remains a common theme of the storyline, numerous other flaws mar the film from the very beginning.

Most noticeable is Franco’s atrocious performance as Skylark, as he pushes his character’s role as an incompetent idiot to such an extreme that he causes his humor to seem simply obnoxious.

Although Rogen delivers a much stronger performance as Skylark’s voice-of-reason producer, his character spends more time as a counterbalance to his cohort’s idiocy and does not deliver many memorable jokes.

These descriptions should beg the question: How funny can a film be if both of its lead actors provide such a lack of humor?

Put simply, not much; not much at all.

Besides a hilarious cameo from Eminem at the start of the film, the number of jokes that solicit any sort of laughter can be comfortably counted on one hand.

A plethora of cliché Asian stereotypes, phallic & toilet jokes and general goofy gags compose the bulk of the movie’s humor, so much so that its marketing as a “satire” is easily forgotten for a majority of the run time.

But even the moments where the film attempts to make a statement against North Korea fall short by a longshot, as only a chilling opening scene with an anti-American anthem and a missile launch truly come close to effective satire.

While statistics revealing the starvation and suffering of North Korea’s citizens are mentioned briefly towards the end of the film, not a single shot depicting these conditions is shown at any point.

The film instead opts for just a couple of scenes that very vaguely hint at the deception of the North Korean government and volatility of Kim Jong-un.

Additionally, Kendall Park’s depiction of Kim Jong-un, while good, is unfortunately limited by the script’s poorly written role for the dictator.

Instead of finding a creative way to satirize Kim Jong-un’s self-deification and totalitarian oppression, the movie attacks him with feminization via tired Hollywood tropes (drinking margaritas, loving Katy Perry, etc.) that could be cast upon any male character.

No specific creativity is applied to making his role unique, and as a result, Kim Jong-un appears as less of a despicable dictator and more as a pathetic and somewhat sympathetic character without any unique personality.

By the time the movie reaches its unnecessarily grotesque conclusion, there is a distinct feeling that Franco and Rogen were the wrong duo to attempt this topic, something that many speculated due to their past output.

For in the end, what could have been a comically poignant critique of the evils of totalitarianism ends up as a juvenile buddy-comedy that reaches far beyond its comfort zone.

Franco and Rogen both owe North Korea and the hackers of Sony a huge debt of gratitude for stirring interest in a film that would have otherwise been rightfully ignored.