"The Interview," in which Seth Rogen and James Franco play Americans who decide to assassinate Kim Jong Un, has been called an "act of war" by a North Korean spokesman and apparently provoked a computer hack that has crippled the studio, Sony Pictures Entertainment. It all seems a steep price to pay for another dopey frat-house comedy from the writers of "Superbad."
The movie's premise is absurd but not entirely implausible. Rogen, who wrote and directed with Evan Goldberg, plays Aaron Rapaport, producer of "Skylark Tonight," a celebrity talk show where the fun-loving, dimwitted Dave Skylark (an overacting Franco) elicits astonishing admissions from the likes of Eminem and Rob Lowe (playing themselves).
When Aaron and Dave learn that Kim Jong Un loves their show, they jump at the chance for an interview with the secretive leader. All it takes is sexy CIA agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) to convince them to kill Kim with ricin.
Like their affable, ignorant characters, Rogen and Franco seem in way over their heads with "The Interview." The closest the movie comes to political satire is depicting young Kim as a lonely, would-be American with a secret love for Katy Perry. Randall Park, a South Korean-American actor, is rather endearing in the role, but the persona is an old idea lifted from 2004's "Team America: World Police," in which Kim's tyrant father Kim Jong Il sang a ballad titled "I'm So Ronery."
"The Interview," though occasionally funny, isn't clever or edgy. It features jokes about bodily cavities, a goofy sex scene (Diana Bang plays an uptight militant) and an unnecessary outburst of shock-comic violence.
Right here, the movie shows its true colors. It feels as though the filmmakers targeted North Korea, one of the world's least-loved countries, because no one important would object to their mocking, almost sadistic treatment of its leader.
"The Interview" isn't interested in espousing any higher ideals of democracy, reconciliation or detente. That arrogant, mean-spirited attitude is what keeps "The Interview" from rising to the level of real political satire. That, and the poop jokes.