The year’s most controversial movie is no longer coming out this year. After a number of theater chains decided not to show “The Interview” following attack threats, Sony has decided to pull the film from its December 25 release date with no plans for when, or if, they’ll finally let it see the light of day. Still, a handful of critics did get to see it, and some of them have published their reviews. So how is that movie that we’re not going to see?
Critics are mixed, with some calling it a stupid, juvenile movie dressing up in controversial clothing while others call it a gleefully stupid, juvenile movie that actually allows Kim Jong-Un some humanity while sending him up. Virtually every critic notes that outside of the overtly provocative premise, the film isn’t a terribly sophisticated or incisive political comedy, and that it’s mostly in line with the kind of goofball material Seth Rogen specializes in. Whether it’s destined to go down as a truly daring studio comedy or a moderately amusing trifle hardly worth getting worked up over, it’s the movie of the moment, and we’re eager to see more reviews (not to mention the movie itself).
“The Interview” has no planned release date.
Chris Cabin, Slant Magazine
During the titular sequence, Kim lets the beast out for a moment when he suggests that America is no better than North Korea in certain respects, a sharp point which the film inevitably discards, along with anything else that might insinuate that Rogen and Goldberg are interested in anything other than cock-centered humor. (Not for nothing is the film’s most memorable joke the creation of the term “honeydick.”) That’s not a knock against this brand of comedy, which certainly has its place, but rather against films like “The Interview” that use major global issues to cheaply dress up what is two hours of hit-and-miss erection jokes. Read more.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
What weighs down “The Interview” is the bane of so many modern American comedies: you’ve got smart, funny people who seem to think that whatever they make up on the set will be funnier than a skillfully-crafted screenplay, and the result is a film whose attention deficit disorder prevents any kind of comic momentum or sharp satirical observations. The actors play off each other well, yes — Park’s Kim wins over Skylark with cocktails, karaoke, and shared confidences about disapproving dads, while Aaron falls for Kim advisor Sook (Diana Bang, “Bates Motel”) — but it’s the difference between a well-oiled machine and a box of shiny ball bearings. Read more.
David Ehrlich, Time Out New York
And therein lies the genius of “The Interview”: It isn’t just the most sophisticated and beautifully shot of Rogen’s star vehicles, it’s also the most giddily puerile. As funny as “Neighbors” and as demented as “This Is the End,” “The Interview” confirms Rogen as the most ambitious mainstream comedian in Hollywood. In the unlikely event that it proves to be Sony’s downfall, at least they’ll go out with a bang. Read more.
Scott Foundas, Variety
North Korea can rest easy: America comes off looking at least as bad as the DPRK in “The Interview,” an alleged satire that’s about as funny as a communist food shortage, and just as protracted. For all its pre-release hullabaloo — including two big thumbs down from Sony hackers the Guardians of Peace — 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. Read more.
Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian
Idiotic though it may be, the screenplay doesn’t pussyfoot around – it chooses a direction and goes with it, to the point that the ending may shock some people. Not all the jokes land, and some of the tastelessness may inspire groans. Putting two American dinguses in North Korea is rich source material for racial stereotyping, but the jokes are, by and large, self-aware. Read more.
Tess Hofmann, The Playlist
…while the film conveys anti-North Korean government sentiment, it isn’t blindly pro-U.S either. When the reporting team finally comes to blows with Kim over the reprehensible state of his country, Sterling is smart enough to let the evil dictator get in a few hits, suggesting that the U.S. has more incarcerated people per capita than North Korea and that the Korean War was the U.S.’ fault. Read more.
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
If you set up as provocative a premise as do the makers of “The Interview,” you ultimately have to deal with all its implications; let’s just say that what concludes the film is rote action, simplistic wish-fulfillment stuff that feels cheap and naive and more concerned with looking coolly kick-ass than with any real-world consequences. Even if one part of the film is sincere in wanting to highlight North Korea’s negatives (famine, ideological orthodoxy, cult of personality, militarism, nuclear brinkmanship, et al.), the larger part is devoted to very Western-style sexual grossness, deterministic outrageousness, self-satisfied obliviousness and contended immaturity. Read more.
And yet the funniest part isn’t its cajones, or even that a film about idiots attempting a political killing is a dumb comedy that may have sparked an international incident. It’s Franco…Skylark isn’t an iconic character, like “Spring Breakers”’ Mr. Alien, but he’s more unpredictable, spastic, and he has an even more catchy-questionable one-liner (involving the word “anus,” of course). He’s a super-manchild, one caught in a cycle of childlike euphoria, insecurity and betrayal. His bromance with Kim Jong-Un may be the most intense movie relationship of the year, and of course one that, like “This is the End,” fiddles winkingly with the real-life questioning of the star’s sexuality. Read more.
Stephanie Zacharek, The Village Voice
Some of the jokes in “The Interview” work, but the movie — which was written by Dan Sterling, from a story by Sterling, Rogen, and Goldberg — never hits the right rhythm. It’s too lax and loose one minute and wound too tight the next. A few scenes come close to the kind of raucous madness the material needs: When Kim and Dave go out for a joyride in that tank, they blow stuff up with jubilant aplomb. But isn’t it time to stop using Katy Perry as the go-to symbol of guys’ weakness for girly pop and thus their great “un-manly” sensitivity? And when it comes to East-meets-West comedy, five or more “Me so solly”–type language gags is pushing it. Read more.