Decades ago while aboard a plane, the TV and film comedienne Carol Burnett borrowed a stewardess’s microphone to apologize for her own performance in the in-flight movie about to unspool for fellow passengers. Recently, Seth Rogen said that he’d smoke a joint with ticket-buyers for The Interview. That won’t help any more than Burnett’s apology did.
The lumpy, spottily funny, obscenely overlong The Interview — the frat boy-minded movie that could turn out to be the reason North Korea may or may not have hacked Sony’s computer files — has been nothing but trouble but really isn’t up to very much. Rogen plays a nice, steady longtime producer and pal of a self-enchanted dimwit, played by James Franco, the celebrity host of a fluffy entertainment TV show. When the two learn that the show has a big fan in Kim Jong-un (played by Randall Park), the supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, they accept an invitation to interview — and assassinate for the CIA — the dangerous and erratic despot.
Considering all the controversy the movie has sparked, The Interview is only a broad comedy with some pretty standard sex, drug, fart and culture clash jokes, along with half-hearted political satire, padding out the running time. Think of it as a mashup of an old-school, Hope and Crosby road comedy, a Cheech and Chong bongfest, and a low-level Rogen/Franco buddy pic, way down from Superbad and Pineapple Express, let alone from much more pointed political comedies like Borat or Team America: World Police. Rogen underplays nicely and lets Franco swing wildly for the fences — and mostly missing. Park is sharp, funny and oddly sweet as the dictator but, even with a toned-down assassination sequence, the movie is a throwaway, worthier of a few laughs than it is a full-on international furor. *