If you’re a fan of the humor in movies like This is the End and Pineapple Express, you’ll enjoy the Seth Rogen and James Franco-starring The Interview. If not, you probably won’t find much to your liking. It’s a film full of that broad, crass, bro-style humor that these guys are most known for, and it’s fun, with a ballsy hook, but it’s nothing earth shattering, and is only going to be remembered as the movie that pissed off a petulant little dictator and got Sony hacked all to hell.
Franco plays smarmy, cheesy talk show host Dave Skylark, more concerned with the latest celebrity scandal than anything going on in the world. Rogen is his bff and sidekick Aaron Rappaport, Dave’s producer who desperately wants to do something relevant, to report hard news. He gets his chance when they learn North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) is a fan and they get an interview with the most reclusive man in the known world. This generates a ton of interest, including from the CIA and Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan), who really would appreciate it if these two gentlemen would assassinate a dangerous, volatile dictator for them, thanks.
What follows is essentially a fish out of water story as these two untrained buffoons dick-and-fart-joke their way through a delicate international situation in a foreign country, figure out how, or even if, to kill a man, and try not to get dead in the process. At it's best, this is reminiscent of Spies Like Us. It’s crude, bawdy, and often clever, but it also relies on tropes you’ve seen often from Rogen and his co-director Evan Goldberg—there a lot of canted frames while characters walk and some song you forgot existed plays. The whole thing is longer than it needs to be and drags in places, especially where Dave waffles back and forth about killing Kim, who may or may not simply be misunderstood and not all that bad of a dude.
Rogen plays his standard goofy, underperforming schlub, while Franco does his thing, playing a sleazy asshole while still managing to be charming and charismatic enough that you can’t hate him. This skill probably comes in handy when he’s pitching his latest William Faulkner adaptation, recreations of gay porn, or whatever off-the-wall project or projects he’s got lined up next.
They’re very obviously trying to be shocking, and thought a movie about killing Kim Jong-un would do the trick. What they didn’t realize is exactly how well their idea would work. Whoever is behind the Sony hack, North Korea or someone else, the filmmakers certainly got their wish, and then some, catching the attention of the entire world, just not necessarily in the way they hoped.
Because of the controversy surrounding the threats of violence, movie theater chains pulling their support, and Sony initially cancelling the release, The Interview is always going to have a place in history. If you can get through the buzz, hype, and controversy, you’ll find a silly, enjoyable movie—again, if you like the people involved, you know what you’re getting and will have a good time here. Though there’s a unique, attention-grabbing gimmick, the whole thing is ultimately forgettable overall. Even though The Interview is destined to be the most memorable movie of 2014, that’s the only way it has any hope of being remembered. [Grade: B-]