The only thing you need to know about this movie is that it’s profoundly dumb.
We rented this movie from Google Play on Christmas Eve with middling expectations and they were not exceeded. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are back at it again, both writing and directing, but not quite pulling off this strange and controversial movie. Had it been released as intended, it would have made some decent coin, maybe cracked the top 5 amid all the stellar Oscar contenders also released on Christmas day, but it would have struggled to find an audience in its second week, or to make much of a lasting impression. So thank you Kim Jong-un for giving this movie a crazy boost and a marketing angle that no other campaign could have touched.
James Franco, doing an impression of his little brother Dave, plays Dave Skylark, celebrity interviewer. His producer, Aaron (Seth Rogen) aspires to more so when they hear that North Korea’s Supreme Leader is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him that they hope will lead to bigger and better fish. Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) intends to use the interview as yet another propaganda piece but the CIA have even loftier ambitions – they draft these two numbskulls to “take out” the tyrant.
Now, why on earth the CIA would entrust such a mission to these buffoons is beyond me. Well, okay, no it isn’t. They just wouldn’t. They couldn’t. So you really have to be willing to overlook the extreme wobbliness of this premise in order to enjoy the movie.
Rogen and Goldberg have proved themselves to be an amazing writing team but The Interview has none of the heart of Superbad or the guile of This is the End. And let’s face it, with the world’s youngest basketball-loving head of state, the jokes should write themselves. I mean, he’s a bad dude with more human rights violations than qualifications to run a country. He’d rather let his peasants resort to cannibalism than alter his hacking budget, but still, he’s a joke.
Rogen and Franco do earn lots of laughs. They’re charismatic guys, they work well together, and off each other, and they’re fun to watch. It’s just that the plot is built loosely around one-liners, and for some reason instead of sticking with what they know (socially awkward teenage boys, and smoking weed), the plot involves the assassination of a reclusive dictator. Weirdly, we’ve seen this before. In fact, I think you could summarize Zoolander in nearly the same way: celebrities vs despot.
If you’re in the mood for a hilarious take on foreign policy, rewatch Team America: World Police. It’s more continuously funny and more worthy of the label ‘satire.’ But if you’re just a fan of Seth and James, you won’t find another Pineapple Express here, but you’ll find some shit to laugh at (sometimes literally, unfortunately). And in the name of patriotism and free speech and all that hullabaloo, maybe that’s enough.