February 27, 2015 Film Reviews


If co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg can make a film as moronic, unfunny, historically inaccurate and culturally myopic as The Interview (2004), then perhaps there is a glimmer of hope for legions of budding film-makers out there with an iota of intelligence and a quality screenplay.

How the Beavis and Butthead of sophomoric cinema managed to convince James Franco ⎯ a competent and commendable actor, writer, director and academic ⎯ to appear in this odious exponent of twenty-first century Orientalism is beyond me.

The Interview is an over-hyped product of and testament to cultural imperialism. It seems that only certain nations wield the right to rigorously control their populations in the name of homeland security. And only certain nations can freely manipulate their media and neurotically police its content while espousing freedom of speech. Anyone else with similar Orwellian ambitions is a nemesis that must be neutralised using one of the most powerful weapons of mass distraction: popular culture.

This is the premise of The Interview, a cinematic hash-brownie dispatched straight from the Hollywood stoner-genre, cookie-cutter. Dave Skylark (James Franco) is the debonair but dim-witted host of the popular, prime time talk show Skylark Tonight. Although reviled by serious-minded journalists of the 60 minutes variety, Skylark Tonight has a wide demographic, including fans in the most unorthodox and ostensibly hostile places, none other than Kim Jong Un (Randall Park), the allegedly draconian leader of North Korea. Seeing a gilt-edged opening and a Ricin-laced opportunity, officials from the Central Intelligence Agency seduce and coerce the ambitious Skylark and his faithful producer Aaron Rappaport (Seth Rogen) into undertaking a covert operation to terminate the leader of the People’s Republic during their visit to the nation.

Although far-fetched and over-the-top, the explosive realisation of this plot in The Interview drew criticism from powerful factions in North Korea and even resulted in a hacking scandal against the film’s distributor Sony. After initially cancelling the release of The Interview on the fear of violent reprisals in theatres, Sony then rescinded, arguably due to external pressure. Had the ban remained, however, it would have saved this writer the excruciating pain of sitting through two hours of juvenile, drug-addled, testosterone-fuelled, wish fulfillment.

But perhaps there is a fate even worse than censorship. Earlier this year, The Interview joined a list of potential nominees for one of the most notorious and risible accolades in Hollywood: the Golden Raspberry award for worst picture of 2014. It faced some stiff competition from Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas (the eventual winner), but had The Interview been officially nominated and then went on to triumph, it would have been a deserved victory for one of the most asinine contributions to cinema last year (or perhaps any year for that matter).


– Dr. Varga Hosseini