The Interview

The Interview
**1/2

North Korea is the most uniquely awful regime on earth.
In North Korea, it is illegal to run a business or to buy or sell food. It is illegal to criticize socialism or question the country’s leader Kim Jong-Un. It is illegal to talk to people from other countries, watch television produced in other countries, or to emigrate.
The tens of thousands of people who break these laws are taken to labor camps where beatings and executions are routine.
The most perverse rule that the North Korean regime uses to stay in power is to imprison not just the man who commits a crime but also his entire family.
Since the Great Famine of the 1990s, the government has loosened up on its extreme prohibition on private enterprise. But the party’s demand for a monopoly on information has actually tightened. North Korea is the only country where you can’t learn the truth about your own government on the internet.
Sounds like a pretty hilarious backdrop for a Hollywood buddy comedy, right? That’s what writer/director team Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (“Superbad,” “Pineapple Express,” “This Is the End”) thought.
Rogen and James Franco star as BFFs Aaron Rapaport and Dave Skylark. Aaron produces Dave’s hit television interview program where he specializes in coaxing celebrities to reveal juicy secrets.
When he finds out that Kim Jong-Un is a fan of his show, Dave decides to go to Pyongyang to do the first exclusive interview with the reclusive tyrant.
The CIA manipulates Dave into using the interview to try to assassinate the North Korean leader. However, plans change when it turns out that Kim Jong-Un in a cool guy.
In the film’s most joyful scene, Dave Skylark and Kim Jong-Un play basketball, drive a tank, and drunkenly sing a Katy Perry song together. Their friendship is amusingly heartwarming.
I hope that the North Koreans realize how foolish they were for using cyberterrorism to try to torpedo “The Interview.” No one would have paid attention to this mediocre, sophomoric comedy if not for the the media coverage of the cyber attack.
The only thing I really liked about this silly movie is James Franco. Franco is a surprisingly gifted comedic actor.
Dave Skylark is a great character: he’s sleazy but not contemptible. He’s amusingly dense but not stupid. He’s egotistical but still lovable. Basically, James Franco saves an idiotic movie from oblivion with his delightfully weird performance.
Even James Franco isn’t enough to turn “The Interview” into a good film, though. The North Korean regime must know that it is hated by its people to fear that a dumb comedy like this could spark a revolution.

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