Seth Rogen and James Franco leave no “Suk,” “Poon,” or “Dong” unturned in their quest to whack North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in The Interview. Worth seeing, if just for the schizo opening logo and its anomalistic marriage of a ’70s ’Scope Columbia torch lady underscored by a ’30s Three Stooges introductory fanfare.
An inspiration disintegration soon takes hold, leaving six reels in which to contemplate the one burning question on everyone’s lips: How in the hell was a major Hollywood player brought to its knees by two hours of penis jokes and elaborate depictions of how to insert objects in men’s rectums?
Franco stars as Dave Skylark, a vapid entertainment talk-show host who sports more facial tics than a barrelful of Bill Buckleys and a wardrobe made up of the Joker’s hand-me-downs. Jong-un (Randall Park), a big fan of Skylark Tonight, invites the teleprompter-dependent moderator of the 60 Minutes of schlock TV to go “dick to dick” with him in an unprecedented interview. The CIA intervenes in the form of Lizzy Caplan’s cleaving cleavage, assigning Skylark and his affable producer, Aaron Rapoport (Rogen), the job of administering the lethal handshake.
Before being assigned the task of global assassin, Rapoport undergoes a Sullivan’s Travels moment, an epiphanic yearning to do something more with his life than simply entertain the masses with gossipy drivel. The sympathetic soul initially denounces America for what it’s doing to foster hatred among the North Koreans. But what could have added conflict to a script desperately in need of shaping is inexplicably done away with the second a gung-ho Rapoport gets a gun in his hand. So much for consistency of character.
The suffocating level of redundancy on display kneecaps any legitimate chance the film had at embracing social satire. Visually, it’s strictly a master shot/close-up/reverse angle depiction of life in CGK: a computer-generated Korea that uses Canada as a live-action backdrop. One is generally inclined to turn a more generous eye to comedy, particularly if there’s compensatory quick-witted dialogue to pick up the slack. But Skylark cites the lyric “Suck a weiner, sit and spin” during the taping of an interview with Eminem, in one of the film’s many guest cameos. Cut to the control room where Rappoport is so tickled by the depth and subtlety of the verse that he can’t help but repeat it out loud to a colleague. Repetition is the key to learning in a Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg production. If you missed the payoff the first time around, don’t worry: the sledgehammering duo are skilled in the art of echoing every phallic aside.
In this homoerotic universe, females represent nothing more than man-eating playmates, glamorized Stooge women acting as potential harbors for drooling men to dock their penises. It’s only fitting that Skylark and Rapoport sail off together in the sunset.
The Interview offers more laughs (four, to be exact) than all of Rogen and Goldberg’s previous pairings combined. And if nothing else, the film’s haphazard booking pattern helped to draw much-needed attention to our own little theater that could, the Digital Gym. Here’s hoping that in the future, Amy Pascal returns their calls.