“Have we all been honeydicked?”

The Interview (2014)
by Matt Allen @mattallensaid

Certificate: 15
Cast: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Randall Park, Lizzy Caplan
Director(s): Evan Golddberg, Seth Rogen
Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Running Time: 112 mins

It was set for release; it was pushed back; it was pulled altogether and finally it was unleashed via digital download. By now you have probably heard the saga of a little comedy film that was dubbed “an act of war” by the totalitarian state of North Korea, a reaction that almost resulted in the censorship of a piece of American/Western culture. Fortunately, the greedy bastards champions of free expression over at Sony Pictures refused to be dictated to by a…dictator and delivered, as promised and in all its provocative glory, The Interview.

When chat-show host Dave Skylark (Franco) and his producer (Rogen) score an interview with the megalomaniacal leader of North Korea Kim Jung-Un (Park), the CIA enlist the hapless pair to eliminate the despot permanently.

Let’s cut to the chase shall we; is it really that controversial? Honestly, the film spends most of its time painting Un as the life of the party, a charmer who manages to wrap Franco’s typically clueless hero around his little finger. It is suggested that he is a more sympathetic character who is a victim of the circumstances of his own upbringing and the burden of leadership.

The offense is more likely to have been taken from ‘that scene’ which does revel a little too long in its own juices and is undoubtedly intended as a massive ‘fuck you’ to the Supreme Leader. That and the accusation that Kim is a closeted Katy Perry fan.

The real disappointment lies in that fact that the Un character bears absolutely no resemblance to the bizarre, gnomey little man that spends his time seemingly oblivious to the wretchedness that surrounds him as he makes his regal tours through squalid factories staffed by human skeletons. Instead he is emptily portrayed as a Frat boy.

But no one expected this to be a biting satire. In fact the only reason it could even be filed under that heading is that it is about a man who is currently alive. There is no examination through comedy of the actual plight of North Korea, but instead a jockish parody of a cruel man and not a very good one at that.

Ultimately, it is difficult not to wonder, was there ever really a threat to the safety of cinema audiences? Did Sony predict the inevitably poor takings of a Franco/Rogen joint over the Christmas period in competition with the likes of The Hobbit? Was it all just a ballsy attempt to bump up sales? Have we all been honeydicked?

While it would have been a huge blow to freedom of speech the world over, it certainly would have been no loss to cinema had The Interview been locked away in a warehouse somewhere along with Colonel Gaddafi’s sex tape and a doodle of Putin with a tiny cock. There was an opportunity to make something really good here (imagine if Matt Stone and Trey Parker had been at the wheel) but it is an opportunity missed.