Interview with a comic twist

FILM REVIEW by Don Perlgut. The Interview is a fictional comedy about an attempted assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Its planned release late last year was delayed after a massive cyber-hacking of Sony’s computer systems, believed to have been done by North Korean agents, revealed corporate secrets on an unprecedented scale.

In the movie, James Franco plays Dave Skylark, the host of a sensationalist TV current affairs show called Skylark Tonight, with Seth Rogen playing his producer, Aaron Rapoport.

When they learn that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un enjoys watching their show, they ask the North Koreans for an interview with him.

After Kim Jong-un surprisingly accepts, the CIA approaches the television duo with a plan that they assassinate the dictator. After some hesitation, they agree, in part because they are seduced by sexy CIA handler Lacey (Lizzy Caplan).

Upon arrival in Pyongyang, however, Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) displays a warm and charming personality, successfully befriending Skylark, who starts having second thoughts about the planned assassination. What follows is a fair bit of mayhem that includes a possible nuclear war.

At its heart, The Interview is a B-grade film masquerading as a political satire of the American obsession with North Korea.

Do not discount the schlocky, broadly comedic elements of The Interview: Rogen, now widely recognised as one of America’s top comics, and his co-director Evan Goldberg are as close as we can get to this generation’s Mel Brooks.

Like so much of American political satire The Interview stems from a Jewish sensibility and outlook. Almost all of the major filmmakers and actors (Rogen, Goldberg, Franco, Caplan) are Jewish, with Rogen’s character Rapoport – intellectual, slightly overweight and highly sexed neurotic – clearly identified as Jewish.

Rapoport’s dalliance with a female member of the North Korean military elite (Diana Bang) is one of the cuter parts of the film.

A particular delight is Korean-American actor Park’s performance as the North Korean dictator, giving a wonderfully modulated and hilarious performance. There are also fun cameos with Eminem, Rob Lowe, Bill Maher, Seth Meyers and Joseph Gordon-Levitt .

Structurally The Interview is less than perfect, but is good-humoured and very funny in parts. It’s a must-see for Seth Rogen fans.

 The Interview is currently screening.

PHOTO of James Franco (left) and Seth Rogen in The Interview.