The Interview is a fictionalised, gory and toilet humour riddled depiction of an interview with Kim Jong-un, the Supreme Leader of North Korea. A supposed political satire which also took the form of irony when it had to make a bunch of cuts and edits in order to appease the very government it was mocking.
We’re introduced to talk show host Dave Skylark and his long-time producer Aaron Rapaport. Both of them together peddle gossip and sensationalize the private lives of celebrities, driven solely by the ratings. In order to satisfy Aaron’s wish to be a real journalist, Dave comes up with a plan to interview North Korea’s dictator after finding out that he’s a fan of the show. After getting the logistics sorted, they announce this plan publicly on their television show to much uproar and mixed reactions. They’re soon contacted by the CIA and convinced to participate in a covert assassination of the leader during the interview. Both of them reluctantly agree to this plan, but Dave botches parts of it before he’s even out of the door. Once inside North Korea, we find out that the leader is a massive fanboy of Dave’s show and is glad to finally meet him in person. They hang out for the day, bonding over all kinds of debauchery and fun activities. We see Kim slowly open up to Dave about his upbringing and the hard time that he’s had to go through. Dave starts to feel guilty about their assassination plan and reneges on it, much to the protest of Aaron. After two of Kim’s officers die in a gun-related accident, he becomes emotional and accidentally reveals his plans to start a war with South Korea and everyone else who opposes him. Dave realizes that having a tough childhood does not necessarily give Kim a clean-chit to do whatever he wants. He apologizes to Aaron and they decide to amp up the confrontational nature of the interview. Infuriated at the piercing questions during the Interview, Kim starts to cry and undo his godlike reputation on live television. They battle it out in an all out military brawl towards the end of which Dave shoots Kim’s helicopter down, killing him.
The obvious themes are the vacuous and sensationalist nature of the media and of course the trigger-happiness and absurdity of the North Korean regime. Both are portrayed in a very direct sense, with very little to be said for subtlety. We see Aaron and Dave willingly give up their freedom to ask the real questions in favour of allowing them to interview the dictator. The entire second act where in North Korea focuses on illustrating the absurdity that is the government.
The film also has a second theme which is not as blatant and responsible for the overthrowal of the draconian ruler. It is that of love, and how it is the one thing that every human in the world needs. All the characters deep inside are lacking affection and love in some manner, each of them respond to it in very different ways depending on their upbringing. After bonding over a game of basketball, Kim reveals to Dave, how his his father never really showed him the affection he needed to become a better person. This lack of affection is partly responsible for his cruel rule over his people. Dave’s producer Aaron and Kim’s general Sook, both have had to sacrifice their personal life in order to sustain the demands of their work. They desire an emotional connection with other humans and find it in each other as a part of their romantic subplot. To safeguard this extremely valuable relationship, Aaron sacrifices his fingers to a violent fanatic and Sook risks her life by betraying the ruler and attempting to lead a coup. Initially, even Dave fills the void in his heart by engaging in all kinds of shallow debauchery, but finally finds a meaningful relationship in the form of the dog that is gifted to him before the interview.
While all the elements for a better subtle theme are there, they’re of course not as well developed as they should be. Indeed, the film sets these props up for expected payoffs which never happen. For example, the CIA officer who’s controlling the mission is useless as none of her plans have any real impact on the plot. The dog is a symbol of Dave’s affection, remains a feeble prop and could’ve been purposed better. How Dave manages to acquire a bulletproof vest and contact the SEAL team is never explained and we’re expected to believe that it just “happens”.
The film can be described as attempts at a plot, a subplot and a theme while also being a political satire on the surface. It fails to do most of it, with possible reasons including the appeasement of the North Korean government. Serves them right, I guess?