Aside from the usual trailer spots, it’s had to rely on a mere few minutes airtime on every single news show on every single channel, articles in every single newspaper in most of the western world. How people were supposed to be aware of its simultaneous presence in movie theaters and on demand on a whole host of platforms is anyone’s guess.
In amongst this scant coverage, there are those who would have us believe that the movie should have been pulled, should never have been made in the first place, that it’s an example of Hollywood going too far. What were the makers thinking of? All the while, others rally to its defense and insist that this is what freedom of expression is all about, and either everything is okay or nothing is okay.
The truth of the matter is, it’s a shame such a by-the-numbers comedy should be used as a vehicle for either cause.
James Franco plays Dave Skylark, an E! style vacuous talk show host, who thanks to his producer, played by Seth Rogen, somehow manages to secure an interview with Kim Jung-un, rather too handsomely portrayed by Randall Park. Apparently, the North Korean supreme leader is something of a fan.
When the CIA get wind of this, largely represented by Lizzy Caplan because the makers needed a female character at this point, they convince the bungling duo to exploit their encounter with Kim and assassinate him. Of course, the dictator doesn’t appear to be all bad and it isn’t long before he and Skylark strike up one of those unlikely friendships that appear to be ten-a-penny in Hollywood.
Over the next 114 minutes, we get Rogen and Franco essentially playing themselves for the umpteenth time while they tick off as many North Korean stereotypes as possible, we get to slap ourselves repeatedly about the head at the utter stupidity of Skylark, and we get an awful lot of penis and butt jokes for our money. Will Skylark be able to carry out this dastardly plot? More importantly, will anyone care either way?
It’s not that it’s bad as such — I imagined that it would be a lot more racist that it actually is — and there are certainly a reasonable number of laughs scattered throughout. It’s just with the irresistible manipulated force of the media pushing it for all its worth, I was hoping for something a little less forgettable and little more risky. For all the supposed controversy, there’s nothing really to gasp at. No boundaries are in any danger of being gently cajoled, never mind actually pushed.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d almost start to suspect that Sony stole its own emails and then blackmailed itself. I know. Ridiculous, right? Right.