James Franco is killing several birds with a single 20-minute-shitshow of a stone. God bless you MTV for rounding up all of 2014's pop culture conversation pieces, and setting them loose in name of the Video Music Awards.
This clip works double-time, serving as a VMAs promo as well as a promo for The Interview, that one movie in which fictional characters portrayed by Seth Rogen and James Franco are part of a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un, a real leader of a nation. Franco appears as his Interview character Dave Skylark, whose understanding of his guests is informed by various internet memes and "trending" topics surrounding them. As Vulture's Lindsey Weber so precisely puts it, "Franco's a mix between Zach Galifianakis on 'Between Two Ferns' and a Twitter hive mind." It's earnest, awkward, and comes up short. It's like they don't feel the need to add humor because they're being trendy.
Skylark (prodded by his producer, Seth Rogen's Interview character?) attempts to get Jason Derulo to sing his own name just like that one video, has his mind blown when he realizes Iggy Azalea is Australian, and of course, asks Nicki Minaj about her ass. The guests play along all fine and well, so obviously there's no harm done. But you will spend 20 minutes wondering if the fact that James Franco himself seems to seep into all of his characters renders him a good or bad actor.
At least Joe Mande's in it.