Interview, The


Main Cast: Seth Rogen, James Franco

Director: Seth Rogen

NPH by David Shankbone (213x275)

Neil is over the moon to be on film with me.

Work on Star is Born picture’s Spielbergian musical mash-up continues apace.  Now that we have located an Amon Goeth, it’s time for me to start filming some of my key scenes.  My character, Flo Idaho, stalwart singing and dancing side kick to Indiana Jones, needs a bang up entrance and establishing scene.  Steven Spielberg has finally ended up casting Neil Patrick Harris as Indiana – the young man can do anything involving an up tempo number and a double time step.  In the latest draft of the screenplay, Indiana is chasing a Nazi band led by Amon Goeth (all dressed in costumes we were able to obtain quite cheaply from a road company of The Producers).  The villains have taken a magical velociraptor bone which Indiana needs to free the slaves.  Just as Indiana is captured by the Nazis following an extensive soft shoe set to Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen, I come plunging through the waves of Omaha Beach on Joey the war horse to save Indiana and the day, pulling him up behind me on the horse and galloping away.  Of course, the budget doesn’t allow us to travel to Normandy, so we’re going to use Venice Beach and digitally erase the crowds.  The producers of Sharknado have also give us access to some of their B roll footage to fill in the gaps.

We’re still having difficulty with the finale.  I think it needs to be a lavish all out production number with all of the surviving cast in heavenly outfits with plenty of sequins and marabou.  The current plan is for everyone to board the mother ship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind and head off into the unknown.  I think we need a more concrete destination than that and have suggested that the heroes instead take off for South America to look for escaped Nazis.  This allows for a potential sequel and we can have an enormous samba with a carnival theme to When My Baby Smiles at Me I Go To Rio.  Neil and I could tap up a storm to that number up and down the landing pad and the ramp into the ship.  Steven has said he’s going to think about it.  I can see the pairings now.  Me and Neil.  My two Coreys as ET and Bruce the Shark.  Tintin and Miss Celie.  Abraham Lincoln and Detective Hanratty.  It will be marvelous.

I am still looking for inspiration for the second act number in which the Nazis prepare a nefarious plan for Tinkerbell and the tyrannosaurus and decided for inspiration to look for a film that both takes on evil political regimes and has modern cultural relevance.  I therefore headed off to the home theater and poked through the Netflix queue until I came up with The Interview, last winter’s film that came close to provoking a serious international incident with North Korea given its portrayal of Kim Jong Un, their dear leader whom they regard as semi-divine.  There had been enough news stories about the film, freedom of expression, and the wit and wisdom of James Franco for me to push the play button and see what all the fuss was about.  Two hours later, I still could not understand what the fuss was about.

The Interview is billed as a comedy but it isn’t the least bit funny.  It’s more pointless, witless and obnoxious than anything else.  I think the creators also thought of it as a cutting edge political and social satire but it has no edge or bite and has no idea what its targets are supposed to be.  In the end, it comes off as some sort of peculiar ego trip of James Franco and Seth Rogen.  The two supposed comedians have become Hollywood darlings, due to the success of their films with Judd Apatow such as This is the End, Superbad, and Pineapple Express.  For this go round, Rogen came up with the story (fleshed out as a supposed screenplay by Dan Sterling) and directed, while Franco was the executive producer.  They should stick to their day jobs.

The Interview is the story of Dave Skylark, a smarmy and incredibly irritating talk show host (played by the incredibly irritating James Franco).  His show is produced by his best friend Aaron (Rogen) and the two of them have a bromance fueled by substances, vaguely homophobic jokes, and somewhat icky homoeroticism.  It turns out that the show is one of the few pieces of US pop culture enjoyed by Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, and through a series of completely unlikely and idiotic occurrences, Kim Jong Un agrees to an on camera interview with Skylark from his palace in North Korea.  The CIA, in the person of a brainy and busty blonde (Lizzy Caplan) finds out about this and recruits our boys to assassinate the leader with a ricin impregnated strip that can be applied with a hand shake.   Off our boys go to Pyongyang to do the interview.  There they meet Kim Jong Un (Randall Park) who turns out to be a hopped up frat boy with great English and a whacky personality.  There are complications, an over sexed North Korean functionary (Diana Bang) and an eventual explosive dénouement.

Where to begin?  Great comedy must be rooted in human behavior but there are no recognizable humans in the movie.  Everyone acts as if they’ve had a half dozen too many Red Bull and Vodka cocktails and nothing suggesting normal human interaction happens on the screen.  The creators don’t seem to recognize that a prolonged scene of a man having to insert a wildly inappropriate object in his rectum has no humor if we don’t have some connection to the man and his predicament.  Comedy also depends on speed and timing and the film drags throughout its nearly two hours of running time.  If they had compressed it into a brisk 90 minutes or so, they might have begun to approach the pace it needed to have.

The best performance in the film comes from Mr. Park who tries to find a comic character in Kim Jong Un but he is ultimately undone by the idiocy of the screenplay and his two co-stars who, while thinking they’re the hippest and smartest guys in the room, are actually operating on about a tenth grade mentality.  Sophomoric is probably the best adjective for what they’re doing on screen.  It would be understandable in a not very good college film school production but in a major studio big budget release, one wonders what the executives at Columbia were smoking when they green-lit this turkey.  (Actually, some recently leaked emails give some clue that this film was hardly the only bad decision at the studio).

My guess is that the studio, when they saw the rough cut of the film, recognized they had a huge pile of flaming poo on their hands that was likely to be trashed by the critics and sink without a trace as the target audience of suburban troglodytes recognized that it wasn’t funny.  North Korea’s umbrage, the back and forth of whether to release or not and the triumph of ‘free speech’ was probably enough undeserved publicity to get enough business to make the film slightly less than a complete financial disaster.  There is no way to recommend this film to any audience and it will only be remembered as a footnote in the six decades of American involvement in the affairs of the Korean peninsula.

1,000 episodes.  Mountain top meeting.  Emergency drone.  Gratuitous dead tiger.  Potemkin grocery store.  Fake fruit smashing. Tank firing. Gratuitous translator sex. Hoops shooting. Ricin chewing gum.

To learn more about Mrs. Norman Maine, see our Movie Rewind introduction, visit her entire back catalog and follow her on Twitter at

photo by David Shankbone

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