A talk show host becomes part of a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un.
You’ve heard a lot about this film by now so I’m going to mostly avoid the controversy and all the shenanigans which followed. You want to know whether The Interview is any good.
Well, kind of…
In many ways it’s a familiar Seth Rogen + James Franco = a specific kind of comedy product. One of them says something, then the other person says a weirder version of that thing. They’ve got an intense bromance thing going on, many curses are dropped and someone puts something up their back passage.
And as far as that goes its pretty decent stuff. Rogen is more of the straight man this time (he’s also co-directing, producing and wrote the story) which gives Franco room for one of his most enjoyable performances to date. He’s a free-wheeling idiot, in over his head, so strong fodder for us to laugh at his stupidity.
But that specific brand of comedy isn’t all you’re going to see, because The Interview also has STUFF TO SAY™. In this case, there’s a point to be made about the myth of modern North Korea, apparently based on copious research by the filmmakers, and plenty of not-so-subtle digs at American foreign policy.
Given the real-life tensions between the countries (which this movie hasn’t helped) it all feels a little too on the nose for a broad appeal comedy and it’s also, far more importantly, boring. If Sony had released The Interview in its current state as a wide release, they would likely have seen fairly middling performance, especially in contrast to something like This is the End.
There’s just too much random shit going on during the films extended 128 minute running-time, and a lot of it gets in the way of the comedy. Long dialogue scenes go nowhere interesting and the plotting, such as it is, it oddly lacking in forward momentum for a set up that should be fraught with tension.
Co-directors Rogen and Evan Goldberg make better work of the third act, mostly because making sense is no longer a priority. That means multiple scenes of rampant violence which is well-handled and extremely graphic. They get the cartoony balance right for the most part (otherwise it would be horrifying) and I’d personally love to see a full on action flick from these guys.
Then there’s the ending, where that video you’ve all watched online happens in the context of a whole movie.
The Interview will no doubt remain famous for its controversy and subsequent unusual release strategy but after the furore has died down its nothing more than a middling comedy effort with too few laughs stretched over a bloated running time and a sideswiping satirical style which too often misses the mark. Still there’s fun to be had, especially for fans of Rogen and Franco’s particular brand of yuks.