By Chaz Lipp
The story, co-credited to directors Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg and screenwriter Dan Sterling, presents a terrific opportunity to mix lowbrow comedy with broad political satire. We get a little of each in The Interview, which famously went MIA during the holiday season of 2014. Worried by threatening email sent during a massive hack of unknown origin (but purported to be from North Korea), Sony capitulated and pulled the film from its release schedule at the 11th hour. Then, in the wake of harsh criticism from no less than President Obama himself, Sony did an about face and released The Interview to a few hundred theaters as well as On Demand cable (and, later, Netflix).
The film itself has failed to live up to the hype and expectations generated by the internet hack fiasco. But that’s not to say there aren’t big laughs. In fact, the first two-thirds of the movie are a lot of fun. Tabloid TV reporter Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his Skylark Tonight producer Aaron (Seth Rogen) score the interview of the century when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) agrees to an interview. He’s an unlikely fan of Skylark Tonight (and a great deal of American pop culture in general, notably the music of Katy Perry). The big catch is that the interview has to be on his terms. Aaron travels to a remote location in China were Kim crony Sook Yung Park (Diana Bang) delivers the rules.
The U.S. government seizes the opportunity to “take out” the North Korean honcho and a plan is hatched wherein Dave and Aaron will deliver a fatal dose of ricin. The North Korean propaganda machine is a target of many jokes, but let’s face it – gross-out humor is really The Interview’s M.O. If you’re a fan of toilet humor, sex-related jokes, and generally outrageous sights gags, it delivers. As expected, Dave and Aaron’s encounters with North Korean officials are mostly botched. A romance develops between Aaron and Sook, while a bromance develops between Dave and Kim. The fun comes to a screeching halt around the time Dave sits down with Kim for the actual interview. Blood, guns, and explosive action mayhem replaces the comedy and winds up sending off The Interview on a low note.
The Blu-ray includes a ton of bonus content, almost entirely produced prior to the Sony hack and its subsequent fallout. There is, however, a very short video intro with co-directors Rogen and Goldberg thanking us for exercising our freedom by buying the movie. The two directors sit for a joint commentary (pun intended). Goldberg mentions he’ll never listen to it if the film isn’t a hit (little did he know at the time). There’s a selection of deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, and three “Line-O-Ramas” (featuring the actors improvising for specific scenes).
“Directors of This Movie,” “Spies Among Us,” “Getting Into Character,” “Puppy Power,” and “Here Kitty Kitty” are production featurettes – the last one, detailing how they cast and crew worked with a real tiger, is the best. “Naked & Afraid” is a tiresome parody of the Discovery Channel show of the same name, featuring Rogen and Franco demonstrating how unfit they are for survival in the wild. Randall Park’s audition tape for the role of Kim Jong-un is a great addition, demonstrating why he was the first and only actor to try out for the role.
Setting all the controversy aside, The Interview is a brazenly silly comedy that doesn’t reach the same giddy highs as the previous Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg collaboration, This Is the End.
The Interview Blu-ray Images: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment