Film and TV

The Long-Awaited Interview Makes an Appearance

Editor's note: After canceling the nationwide release of The Interview, due to threats by hackers angry at the movie's sentiment toward North Korea, Sony Pictures Entertainment — perhaps after being scolded by President Obama — decided to screen the film on a limited basis. In Denver, it has been shown at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and is at the Sie FilmCenter until at least January 9. It is also available to rent on Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft's Xbox Video and a dedicated website, seetheinterview.com.

The big selling point of Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen's comedy The Interview was a jaw-dropper: When the producer and the star of a sensationalistic talk show — played, respectively, by Rogen and James Franco — get a chance to interview wackbird North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the CIA butts in and persuades them to assassinate him. Building a comedy around the planned murder of a real-life geopolitical figure is a pretty wild idea, and apparently, the real-life Kim thought so, too. In June, after seeing a trailer for the film, North Korean officials called the movie an "act of war" and held the Obama administration responsible for it, threatening a "decisive and merciless countermeasure" if the film were released. In late November, Sony Pictures became the victim of a major computer hack, carried out by a group identifying itself as Guardians of Peace. The North Korean government has denied responsibility.

With so much drama riding on its mere existence, The Interview deserves the poetic justice of actually being great. But the more desperately a comedy tries to be outrageous, the less likely it is to be outrageous — or even just funny. And that's the fate that befalls The Interview, which offers a few moments of casual brilliance but otherwise trips itself up in the threads of its contrived absurdity.

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Stephanie Zacharek was the principal film critic at the Village Voice from 2013 to 2015. She is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and of the National Society of Film Critics. In 2015 Zacharek was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism. Her work also appeared in the publications of the Voice’s film partner, Voice Media Group: LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press, Dallas Observer and OC Weekly.