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So after all that hassle is The Interview actually any good?

The reviews are mixed to say the least.

James Franco plays TV host Dave Skylark in The Interview
James Franco plays TV host Dave Skylark in The Interview
Image: MOVIECLIPS Trailers via YouTube

RARELY, IF EVER, has the US president been required to intervene to ensure the release of a Hollywood film but after all the hassle and hype about ‘The Interview’ is it actually any use?

Having originally cancelled the film’s release following a cyber attack and threats against moviegoers, Sony surprised people by putting it online for US viewers on Christmas Eve with it then opening in selected cinemas across the States yesterday.

The comedy, starring Seth Rogen (who also co-directs) and James Franco, depicts how TV presenter Dave Skylark (Franco) and his producer (Rogen) secure an unlikely exclusive interview with North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un before being roped into a CIA plot to assassinate the reclusive dictator.

So, is it any good? You’re probably not all that surprised to hear that the reviews are not great.

The Verge says “the least important element of the story of The Interview is The Interview itself”. Emily Yoshida writes:

The Interview is substandard Apatovian bro-fare to the point of self-parody, full of the offensive Asian accents and dick-joke-a-minute banter one would expect.

She also has a message for those of you – and we’re sure there are many of you – that are thinking of going to see the film purely because of the hype:

If you are not the kind of person who would normally go see The Interview, but have been swept up in the mania surrounding it and have a ticket to a brick-and-mortar screening on Christmas Day, maybe take a moment to ask yourself why. Consider spending those two hours with your families or loved ones instead; they probably miss you and love you.

Her review did not go down well with one star of the film:

AFP wonderfully describes Franco’s character, Skylark, as a “girl-chasing, hard-partying, always fashionable tabloid TV presenter” while poor Rogen is reduced to merely “his producer”. Of the film it says:

A bawdy, expletive-laden tale full of sexual innuendo and scatological humor, the film starring Rogen and James Franco is a silly, low-brow romp about a CIA plot to assassinate Kim.

The New York Times‘s A.O. Scott perhaps nails it by pointing to the fact that Rogen and Franco have previous:

“This Is the End,” the previous Rogen-(Evan) Goldberg-Franco feature, seemed to leave the raunchy bro-com genre with nowhere new to go. It was funny, for sure, but its apocalyptic high jinks couldn’t quite disguise its conceptual exhaustion. “The Interview” confirms this impression.

The reviewer describes the film as “a goofy, strenuously naughty, hit-and-miss farce, propelled not by any particular political ideas but by the usual spectacle of male sexual, emotional and existential confusion”.

RogerEbert.com‘s Steven Boone is a little kinder, noting that while the interview is “nothing new” it does look good on screen:

Its widescreen visuals are James Bond/”Mission: Impossible” chrome-plated sleekness. The camera glides, shakes and catches the occasional wispy anamorphic lens flare as characters flit through control rooms, conference rooms, hotel suites and grand chambers. You expect Kanye West and some X-Men to show up.

interview1 Lizzy Caplan plays CIA agent Lacey Source: Screengrab via YouTube

Deadline’s Jeremy Gerard describes the film as Rogen and Franco’s “Christmas Turkey” but does pull back a little by noting it “isn’t the worst movie ever made. It’s not even the worst movie Sony released this holiday season”. He adds:

It’s an awfully stupid movie, and by stupid, I don’t mean good-stupid, the kind that makes you laugh so hard you forget to be embarrassed. The Interview is so drenched in flop sweat that anyone seeing it for reasons of patriotism should be saluted.

Variety might well nail it with its chief film critic Scott Foundas saying that North Korea is right to object to the film’s release as “Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s Kim Jong-un assassination farce is a terror attack … against comedy.” It doesn’t end with that humdinger as he adds:

This half-baked burlesque about a couple of cable-news bottom-feeders tasked with assassinating Korean dictator Kim Jong-un won’t bring global diplomacy to its knees, but should feel like a kind of terror attack to any audience with a limited tolerance for anal penetration jokes.

It’s not all bad though.

Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers is a big fan of the movie, noting that succeeds in its mission “to make audiences piss themselves laughing” describing it as “killer funny” before adding:

It’s stupid. It’s in bad taste. It impossible. I know all that. Look, Quentin Tarantino killed Hitler in Inglourious Basterds and the neo-Nazis stayed quiet. It’s a farce, people. From the opening scene in which a North Korean schoolgirl sings about Americans drowning in their own blood to a face-melting climax for Kim, The Interview strives hard, sometimes way too hard, to push the envelope.
Have you seen it yet? Let us know what you think in the comments… 

Read: The Interview can now be streamed on Youtube (with a little help from Ireland)

Read: Here’s why axed North Korea film The Interview is such a big deal

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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