Credit: Ed Araquel/CTMG - © 2014
"The Interview" is a disappointment, particularly coming on the heels of the last Seth Rogan/Evan Goldberg outing, the alert, scrappy "This Is the End" (2013). Alert and scrappy? "The Interview" is decidedly neither.
But more about that later.
It's also somewhat incongruous that this is the trivial material that threatened a major movie studio, provoking weeks of hand-wringing grief. As a stab at political comedy, "The Interview" is rather toothless, the antithesis of something on the level of "Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (1964) or even "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" (1999) - or HBO's "Veep," for that matter.
For the talented, affable Seth Rogan, on paper, "The Interview" seems like a natural step forward in his burgeoning movie career. It is bigger and more ambitious than his previous movies. In this respect, it is reminiscent of Bill Murray's comic epic of 30 years ago, "Ghostbusters" (1984). Which, full disclosure, also disappointed me. I know,I know. I'm in the minority here but, frankly, the fan enthusiasm for "Ghostbusters" has always baffled me. It has the same hulking proportions of "The Interview" - and is also neither as scrappy nor as alert as earlier Murray comedies.
I'm thinking here of "Meatballs" (1979), "Stripes" (1981) and particularly "Caddyshack" and "Where the Buffalo Roam" (both from 1980).
These titles are a lot smaller - and a lot more fun - than "Ghostbusters."
In Rogan's case, there's the lowly but hilarious "Superbad" (2007), "Pineapple Express" and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" (both 2008), "Observe and Report" (2009) and "For a Good Time, Call..." (2012).
Both men have taken impressive dramatic risks early in their careers (Murray with "The Razor's Edge" and Rogan with "Take This Waltz"), but it's their alert and scrappy comedic roots, their shared low-down wit, that makes each one so irresistible. Sometimes, size doesn't matter.