So, I just don’t have time to go into the whole “North Korea will destroy America in a lake of flaming vengeance” nonsense that went on surrounding this movie, save to say that I think it was pretty stupid of North Korea to make a big deal about a fictional movie, a comedy no less, and that it was pretty stupid of theaters and Sony to freak out due to a ‘threat’ from a country with essentially the technology of the Bronze Age. Anyway, on to the movie proper, in which James Franco and Seth Rogen play a pair of intrepid, not particularly bright, television “journalists” tasked with murdering Kim Jong-un. Well, I’ll tell you this; this movie is terrible. It’s just not funny at all. It’s way too long and rarely works in any way. I will give props to Franco, who commits totally to his idiotic talk-show host part; it’s weird to say, but as unfunny as the movie is, it’s one of his most finally tuned and precise comic performances. And kudos to Randall Park, an actor I know from his recurring role on Veep, who manages to play Kim perfectly, a man who can come across as affable, likable and charming but hides an angry, impulsive violence behind the façade. Any effective moments in the film come at the behest of these two actors managing to elevate substandard material. Others, like Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, etc. don’t fare so well. The one scene that really, really worked for me was the scene of Franco, who’s fallen totally under Kim’s spell, discovering that the grocery store he was shown at the beginning of his trip is completely fake. Franco plays the scene very straight; he doesn’t betray the character by suddenly making him intelligent – he maintains the dumbness which adds a bit of humor, but it’s subtle (in contrast to the rest of the humor here) and the scene really plays very dramatic as Franco discovers that he’s been hoodwinked. Anyway, I have to give this movie a strongly recommended against. Below average. 1 ½ stars.
tl;dr – controversy is the only interesting thing about this often painfully unfunny film; Franco & Park are better than the material, but not enough to salvage much. 1 ½ stars.