Movie a Day Blog wants to point out that it did not purchase the video on demand version of THE INTERVIEW (2014, Netflix Streaming), and did not venture out to see it in an art theater, the only ones willing to play it.
I saw no reason to reward Sony Pictures for their, and the major theater chains’, chickenshit attitude toward the presumably North Korean hackers who intimidated the studio into not theatrically releasing the film.
The nervousness is understandable; who wants a repeat of the slaughter that took place at an Aurora, CO screening of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES in 2012? But quickly yanking the film was a blow against artistic integrity and freedom, two concepts not very familiar in Hollywood.
The biggest problem in trumpeting creative license turns out to be THE INTERVIEW itself; it’s not very good and it’s not wise-headed in its “Fuck you” attitude toward the object of its derision, the decidedly bizarre North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, who just happens to have his thumb on his country’s nuclear button.
On their last outing, the very funny THIS IS THE END (2013), director Evan Goldberg and star and now co-director Seth Rogen, had a large cast of funny comedians and James Franco to fall back on as their apocalyptic vision became more and more absurd.
In THE INTERVIEW, it’s just Rogen and Franco, and the bro-mance jokes get them only so far. Franco is willing to go out on any available limb as a slick but dumb TV interview show host, and Rogen mostly acts outraged as his beleaguered manager, but the actual yucks are few and far between. Their mission, given to them by a completely unbelievable CIA agent Lizzy Caplan, is, after all, a political assassination.
Was it smart to purposefully portray a guy with an itchy trigger finger as a closeted gay man who dotes on Katy Perry and margaritas and looks like he’d do anything to get Franco in bed?
Probably not, but the best thing about THE INTERVIEW is the performance by Randall Park as President Kim; he completely humanizes his character while also making him extreme, not a small feat in a genre as dumb as this one.
Make no mistake, this is a genre picture: the new “extreme violence is funny and nothing is too gross” genre, typified by PINEAPPLE EXPRESS (2008) and SUPERBAD (2007). So fingers go flying in THE INTERVIEW, blood spurts just as much in North Korea as it does here, and the ridiculous plot moves to the ludicrous setting on the laugh-o-meter, which pretty much dies down completely in the film’s final half-hour.
Rogen can be an endearing screen personality, and has more range than most of his film roles require of him, but he’s just an irritating scold in THE INTERVIEW. His best scenes are the sexual tension dance he does with North Korean propaganda officer Diana Bang; it’s nice to see a woman get a chance to compete in what is usually a boy’s club, on and off the set.
It’s a shame THE INTERVIEW doesn’t work as either a pointed satire or a balls-out comedy. Either alternative would have been easier for Sony to defend on artistic grounds. But this is just a tepid, sometimes needlessly offensive film that isn’t funny and isn’t entertaining. It wasn’t worth a cause celebre.