Nearly two years removed from the political hullabaloo surrounding The Interview, the movie is actually very funny, despite completely failing to have any point whatsoever. Sure, it's way too long, like many comedies these days. Individual scenes stretch on too long, failing to build to a satisfying conclusion but instead feeling more like a hodgepodge of improvisation from the actors, sometimes yielding great results with other times falling flat. And there is also the fact that the movie is just plain racist, good intentions or not.
But you can forgive a lot of these flaws if you find it funny, and I did, surprisingly. I found the script to have a shocking amount of wit, especially compared to the more critically successful efforts by writer-directors, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg—namely, This is the End and Sausage Party, which they did not direct. Rogen and co-star James Franco possess a constant font of chemistry with one another, as they reprise their straight man-kooky guy dynamic from Pineapple Express.
Rogen plays the producer of Franco's dippy talk show, in which he interrogates celebrities about embarrassing details of their lives, the sort of crap that American audiences completely eat up, as the movie points out. Their show happens to score well with none other than Kim Jong-un, Supreme Leader of North Korea. When news of this gets out, a CIA spook played by Lizzy Caplan approaches the pair and convinces them to assassinate Kim after conducting an interview with the despot.
As you may have guessed, the plot is nothing but a clothesline upon which to hang comedic set pieces. Likewise, the filmmaking serves the same purpose: although this has a rather large budget for a comedy ($40 million), directors Rogen and Goldberg don't have much up their sleeves that we haven't seen done better on television. It's the concept, performances and jokes that make a movie like this sink or swim, and it mostly swims. Rogen is just a solid actor and comedic performer, whose persona is so winning and amiable that it's hard not to smile when he's onscreen. Franco initially grates because his character is so loopy as to be unbelievable, but eventually he finds his grounding as the film goes on. Caplan has little to do but be sexy, an aspect of her that begins as a plot point, after which she's merely competent; there's worse things to be in contemporary comedy.
Always welcome whenever he appears in anything is Randall Park as Kim, known for playing the simpering Danny Chung on HBO's Veep. As the son of Korean immigrants, Park has the accent down, even if it sounds a bit exaggerated and not too far from the horrific parody of Kim's father in Team America: World Police. It is in comparison to that film—also about the murder of the then-current North Korean dictator—that The Interview falls flat. It simply has no point-of-view on North Korea's political situation, its relationship to the United States or to the rest of the world. Yes, there are plenty of jabs at the fact that Kim has fashioned himself as a god to his people, as well as the blatant lies to the rest of the world about how the North Korean people are super happy and totally not repressed. Whereas Trey Parker and Matt Stone's film equally damned both the US and NK for their hypocrisy, Interview is too good-natured really to offend anyone, which is ridiculous, considering the precarious situation we thought we were in when the film was released.
If you're a fan of Rogen and Goldberg's humor, it is in good form in The Interview. Just don't expect anything brilliant. Rogen and Goldberg have it in them to make a great comedy one day. They came close with their script for Superbad; maybe they actually will soon enough.