After much hullabaloo, and an increasingly growing amount of hype that feels almost slap-stick at this point, Sony has managed to find the ability to release The Interview in a small number of theaters and for a VOD release online. Of course, the hype is what will drive many to rent (or, let’s be honest, torrent) the film and see if it’s truly as offensive as some might believe it to be. In truth, however, the hype falls almost as short as the humor does.
The plot revolves around a high-rated, low-minded TV talk show “Skylark Tonight,” hosted by Dave Skylark (Franco), a prancing hyperbole of a journalist. A decade into the program’s run, serious journalistic credibility remains as elusive as on day one — a fact that weighs heavy on the heart of Skylark’s producer Aaron Rapaport (Rogen), a journalism school grad who got into the business with dreams of real news breaking on his show. Eager to cheer him up, Skylark proposes that the duo land an exclusive interview with Kim, who’s known to be a fan of the show and who’s back in the headlines after recently test-launching a nuclear missile at an uninhabited Pacific island.
When Kim proves a willing subject, a ratings bonanza seems all but certain… until the CIA arrives in the form of Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan), who draws on her feminine wiles to persuade Dave and Aaron do the Agency a solid and kill Kim while they’re at it. “It’s 2014. Women are smart now,” observes Dave — a line that would seem funnier if the film didn’t keep acting positively aloof whenever a smart woman actually turns up.
There are the makings here of a buffoonish espionage but just when The Interview should be revving its comic engines, it seems to hit the brakes. By far the movie’s most outrageous scene is its first: a group of North Korean schoolchildren singing an anthem whose lyrics are translated as “May your women all be raped by beasts of the jungle.” But once Dave and Aaron themselves arrive in Pyongyang, they are ferried to their quarters in Kim’s palace, and there they stay for most of the movie’s running time. It’s a strategy that deprives The Interview of one of its best comic possibilities: seeing these two characters at play in the world’s most isolated, information-deprived communities.
Rogen and Goldberg never get a sustained comic rhythm going, and they screw up some of their better gags. The slow-acting poison with which the characters are meant to assassinate Kim, concealed on a small adhesive strip, practically begs to be passed around like a hot potato, but all we get is a rather lame bit about Aaron having to conceal the poison inside his rectum. And when all else fails in The Interview, to the rectum the movie invariably returns. What little goodwill The Interview has amassed up to the climax is literally shot to pieces during a long and excessively gory third act that seems to have dropped in from a 1980s Schwarzenegger movie.
It’s difficult to really come on one side or the other regarding a final rating for Rogen and Franco’s latest “bromedy”, but it’s worth admitting that there are a few parts that will elicit a chuckle or two. If you can handle a hefty amount of anal-oriented jokes and the typical Franco sensationalizing, go for it; but if Rogen’s laugh gets on your nerves, you’re best to stay away from this one.