‘The Interview’ review: far from comedy gold

By Adrian Danganan

“The Interview” has seen the darkest of days.

Directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the film has been on North Korea’s radar in recent months due to its satirical focus on the country. The controversy has led to a string of cyber attacks against Sony Pictures Entertainment, parent company of Columbia Pictures. Waves of film leaks, disclosed documents and radical threats ultimately forced Sony to pull the plug on the nationwide release of “The Interview” a week before its Christmas Day release.

However, on Dec. 23, Sony announced a limited release of “The Interview” in select theaters on Christmas Day. The entertainment giant then issued an online release via streaming through Google Play, Xbox Video, YouTube Movies and Sony’s website on Christmas Eve.

Amid its controversial saga, was the action comedy film worth the fight in the long run? For free speech, there is no doubt about it. But judging on the film itself, it would have been wise to leave “The Interview” in Sony’s vault.

The film follows Dave Skylark (James Franco), TV host to an entertainment talk show called “Skylark Tonight,” and Aaron Rapoport (Rogen), the show’s producer. Although Dave loves the celebrity-exposing direction of “Skylark Tonight,” Aaron’s journalistic instincts believe their work could follow more serious content with hard-hitting potential.

Both are given the opportunity to further their goal, as they discover North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) is a fan of their show. After a few calls by Aaron (and a puppy-loving cameo by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Dave announces on “Skylark Tonight” that he will travel to North Korea and meet with Kim, who will be his guest on the show.

However, things go awry after the comedic duo is given the task of assassinating the North Korean leader. As anyone would expect, things start to get hectic from there.

“The Interview” also stars Lizzy Caplan as Agent Lacey, a CIA operative who leads the duo, and Diana Bang as Sook, a high-ranking official in North Korea that Rogen’s character takes a liking to.

Park’s portrayal of the North Korean leader is actually hilarious. Park captures a power-fed man who, while running a country, can secretly hold down margaritas while falling prey to Katy Perry’s “Firework.” Considering Park gained weight and shaved his head for the role, it is safe to say the burden paid off. Park pulled off a fictionalized version of Kim pretty flawlessly.

The unimportant celebrity cameos in the film are also noteworthy. From Rob Lowe’s bald-headed confession to Eminem’s closeted revelation (which this writer found entertaining due to his solemn demeanor in the film and his stint with Sacha Baron Cohen at the 2009 MTV Movie Awards), these small appearances breathed bits of life in to the film.

However, other than that, “The Interview” is strong in appeal but weak in capturing. Even though Rogen and Franco are typically hysterical sharing the screen, the film lacks in keeping the audience roaring in their seats with their usual antics. There are a few moments of casual snickering here and there, but not enough to consider “The Interview” pure comedy gold.

Think of it this way: the film is a less drugged-out version of “Harold and Kumar.”

As for the commotion from North Korea, it is safe to say Kim Jong-un is not portrayed in a horrible manner. Believe it or not, his fictionalized counterpart is kind of lovable. If anything, the only low blow to Kim is that his fictionalized film version loves Katy Perry and margaritas.

Though Sony took the right step in exercising free speech by releasing the film for the masses, “The Interview” is a forgettable flick. It is not entirely horrible, but it is certainly not one of Rogen and Franco’s best works. It has its moments, but the hysteria to release the film might make for a better picture.

“The Interview” is rated R for pervasive language, crude and sexual humor, nudity, some drug use and bloody violence.

“The Interview” is in select theaters now and available for online streaming.

Courtesy Columbia Pictures

‘The Interview’

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