That’s not to say The Interview is without its charms. The chemistry between Rogen and Franco is as entertainingly vigorous as ever, and the pair make for an extremely likable set of central stooges, from their discussions about attractive spies seducing them into doing their bidding (“He’s honeydicking me!” Franco announces, as Rogen quickly covers: “He means honeypotting, you’re honeypotting him.”) to their over-the-top displays of friendship (such as a feature-length Lord of the Rings comparison that includes an uproarious Gollum impression from Franco). Even when the script is messy and meandering, their energy, and strangely affecting bond, keeps it going. You still want Rogen and Franco to keep making movies together forever – even when they’re as haphazardly executed as this one.
Tackling the tricky role of Kim, Randall Park is a riot, satirizing the Dear Leader’s omniscient public persona while zeroing in on the idea that underneath all the posturing, he’s really just a privileged man-child who commands terrifying authority. That part of the film hits close to the mark for something marketed as a silly comedy. In the smaller role of North Korean official Sook, Diana Bang also makes a hilarious first impression, so much so that you wish the movie gave her more to do than rely on Rogen and Franco’s characters to save the day.
It’s also enjoyable to see that The Interview is an equal opportunity button-pusher, meaning no one escapes without their fair share of razzing. The eccentric Kim, part and parcel with his backwards and horrifically manipulative regime, is of course the butt of a great many jokes, but the CIA takes a pretty brutal beating as well. (“How many times can the U.S. make the same mistake?” asks one character of a proposed plan to gun down Kim. “As many times as it takes!” Franco’s jingoist lug responds with oblivious gusto.) The sensationalist state of American journalism is also amusingly skewered during a taping of the leads’ talk show, on which Franco’s character uncovers celebrity dirt through sheer dumb luck. One wonders if the North Korean government would have had as extreme a reaction to the movie had they seen it first.
That The Interview got the dictator’s goat so completely is more embarassing to him than anything else. A film this unabashedly stupid isn’t trying to start any conflicts or make any intelligent insights about foreign policy – it’s just mining a larger-than-life topic for as many low-level laughs as possible. Flashes of wit can be spotted, but only if your attention never wavers from what’s on screen. And for the most part, The Interview‘s observations about North Korea begin and end at, “That’s fucked up!” If anyone should be angry about The Interview, it’s the group of documentary filmmakers that has worked tirelessly to push the U.S. toward diplomatic intervention in the human rights-averse country. Whereas their works have carefully delineated what can logistically be accomplished to improve conditions inside North Korea, Rogen and Goldberg’s movie is a diplomatic equivalent of a sledgehammer.
Rogen and Franco have an easy chemistry that never fails to entertain, but The Interview is the dumbest and least continuously funny film they've been involved with to date.