The Interview (15)**

Taking on Kim Jong-un in the controversial The Interview
Taking on Kim Jong-un in the controversial The Interview
Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev, Jeffrey Tambor as Georgy Malenkov, Adrian McLoughlin as Joseph Stalin, Dermot Crowley as Lazat Kaganovich, Paul Chahidi as Nikolai Bulganin, Paul Whitehouse as Anastas Mikoyan and Simon Russell Beale as Lavrentiy Beria.

Cinema and TRAILER: The Death Of Stalin - cast and director interview

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If all publicity is good publicity, then Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s contentious action comedy has been a marketing dream.

The film monopolised column inches and airtime last year after hackers attacked Sony Pictures, releasing confidential data about employees and A-list stars on the company’s roster.

The scale of the cyber attack against a corporation with a strong technology pedigree was dizzying, culminating in threats against American cinema chains that were planning to screen The Interview.

After all of the brouhaha and vociferous debate about free speech, The Interview turns out to be a crass, lumbering and toothless political satire.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s bad taste puppet satire Team America: World Police trampled over similar ground in 2004 with considerably more gumption and style.

Dave Skylark (James Franco) is the gregarious host of entertainment show Skylark Tonight, which prides itself on headline-grabbing celebrity exposes. Long-time producer Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen) learns that Kim Jong-un (Randall Park), Supreme Leader of North Korea, is an ardent fan of the show, so he casually approaches the president’s advisors for an on-air interview.

Miraculously, the notoriously secretive regime agrees.

‘All questions will be supplied by the Supreme Leader,’ confirms the President’s right-hand woman Sook Yung Park (Diana Bang).

Shortly before they depart for Pyongyang, Dave and Aaron meet with CIA Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan), who wants the duo to poison Kim with ricin during their private audience.

The lads agree but the covert operation gradually falls apart when Lacey discovers her inside men are buffoons.

The Interview starts promisingly but Dan Sterling’s script careens from one clumsy homophobic interlude to the next, until Dave determines that Kim must die because, ‘That’s the American way!’

The central pairing of Franco and Rogen grate before they have even departed American soil. Mindless violence explodes in the final act including a slow-motion face-off between the boys and Kim that averts nuclear Armageddon with all the subtlety and finesse of a sledgehammer to the sternum.