The Interview *** (Out of *****)

2014/12/img_1868.jpgI don’t remember the last time a movie stirred up this much controversy. The stupidity of Showgirls NC-17 rating, the outrage over the portrayal of teens in Larry Clark’s Kids, the X-rating for the raw sexuality of Last Tango In Paris’s “Go-get-the-butter” scene. Censoring these films and making them difficult to see only makes us want to see it more. Generally that sets us up for disappointment, as the cries of indecency don’t quite match what we see on the screen. The same is true with The Interview.

I can understand why a crazy dictator like Kim Jong-Un would want this movie stopped, but he definitely didn’t watch the film before his decision was made. Seth Rogen and James Franco come off as, basically, the same characters they play in every movie they do together. Stoned, foul-mouthed bros who are only concerned with cheap laughs. It’s true, the movie does deliver some guffaws from the over-the-top acting of Randall Park as -Un, but the Americans come off just as bad.

I spent Christmas morning watching this movie, alone in my living room. Comedies, for me, work so much better with an audience. You get one idiot up front cracking up at every fart joke and all of a sudden the whole room is doubled over in laughter. At home it’s just you, and if the jokes don’t land, it can be a long watch.

Luckily, enough of the jokes hit the mark. It’s no Pineapple Express, but it has enough laughs to be worth watching. A lot of those come from Franco’s Dave Skylark-a mashup of a TMZ-style news show with a Barbara Walters-type host hell bent on making interviewees cry on camera. Everything about the character made me laugh, including how absolutely oblivious he seems to be in regards to anything that doesn’t directly effect him.

Rogen plays Aaron, Skylark’s best friend and producer. He dreams of doing a “real” news broadcast, but that goes out the window as soon as someone uncovers a video of what looks like Matthew McConaughey making love to a goat. At this point Rogen is Rogen, and he plays that character so well that you can’t really complain.

Everyone knows the plot after reading about the movie for the past few weeks, so I won’t get into that here. The point is it’s funny. I tend to judge comedy films on one criteria: did it make me laugh? In the case of The Interview, yes it did. Was it stupid and sometimes offensive? Of course it was. That’s their whole shtick. If you’re thinking this movie is going to be some kind of amazing spectacle, you clearly haven’t seen anything else these guys have done.

The film is streaming now on various platforms, and it may be playing in a theater near you but I doubt it.