'The Interview' review: Silly, mildly funny bromance doesn't live up to its hype
This silly, dick-joke comedy obsessed bromance comedy would have totally been lost in the holiday shuffle - instead, "The Interview" (released on VOD Dec. 24 and in select theaters Dec. 25) is the highest profile art house film and VOD release of all time.
In short: A pair of tabloid journalists (James Franco and Seth Rogen) travel to North Korea to interview and assassinate Kim Jong-Un (Randall Park). (Watch the trailer)
"The Interview" makes no attempt at cutting edge or satirical comedy. It's silly and presents its two protagonists as a pair of bumbling, if well-meaning, "news" entertainment journalists sent on a covert assassination mission. They are hardly journalists and they are most certainly not spies.
And despite its premise and buffoonish and trigger-happy take on Kim, "The Interview" is equally critical of the frivolous news industry and a single-minded, kill happy CIA. Virtually no one is presented in a totally righteous light here - least of all Kim Jong-Un.
Park depicts the North Korean dictator as a charming - if crazed meglamaniac obsessed with Katy Perry, luxury sports cards and basketball. His first moment on screen is almost sweetly unassuming - and his last moment is, well, quite graphic. Co-directors Rogen and Evan Goldberg make every effort to ground Kim as a rather immature tyrant with deep father issues - and yes, they even prove Kim indeed poops.
Despite its over-the-top premise, "The Interview" is essentially a bromance between two buddies -- packed with a lot of poop and gay jokes.
Anyone expecting this comedy - once assumed all-but forbidden and abandoned by Sony Pictures - to be a biting comedic indictment, ala Twain or Monty Python, of an out-of-control dictator may want to lower their expectations. If the North Korean government had simply ignored "The Interview" when the trailers first came out, this otherwise unremarkable movie might have been simply come and gone. If the hackers had spent two hours watching this "act of terror," they might not have opened thousands of Sony employees to identity theft and privacy violations.
This movie was simply not worth the outcry or hacking crimes -- as much as does not warrant any patriotic joy at its release on VOD and independent theaters. It's too juvenile to be taken seriously and its comedy too dull to given any credit as satirical or sharp. In that regard, it pales in comparison to even the dullest "South Park" episode.
But "The Interview," for better or worse, now has a place in cinematic history. Its very existence pushed aggressors to act against this film, sight unseen, and prompted a volley of hacking warfare incidents. The release of a such a high-profile major motion picture not in huge theaters, but in small art house theaters and on VOD, is a watershed moment for the major cinema industry -- an industry already experiencing slow, but steady, decline.
For these reasons, "The Interview" is a must-see for all movie fans. Watching it is not an act of patriotism or celebration of free speech. But this film may be the most "important" movie of 2014 in every regard ... except its actual content, where it is a mediocre comedy with fleeting moments of true hilarity.
Final verdict: Rogen and Franco have crafted an at-times funny, if adolescent, comedy that spends more time taking shots at the media than at Kim Jong-Un. And to its credit, "The Interview" succeeds in establishing desperate characters and pitting them against an equally impossible situation.
"The Interview" is now available on VOD and in select theaters Dec. 25 - and is rated R for pervasive language, crude and sexual humor, nudity, some drug use and bloody violence.