Was Sony's The Interview worth the hype? A round-up of reactions from critics

Posters are seen outside The Theatre at Ace Hotel before the premiere of the film The Interview in Los Angeles, California on Dec 11, 2014.  -- PHOTO: AFP
Posters are seen outside The Theatre at Ace Hotel before the premiere of the film The Interview in Los Angeles, California on Dec 11, 2014.  -- PHOTO: AFP

Starring Hollywood stars Seth Rogan and James Franco, with a plot that combines a hacking scandal, geopolitical tension, and juicy revelations about A-listers like Angelina Jolie and George Clooney, plus a cameo by US President Barak Obama. Yes, it's the story of the making of The Interview, playing in all major newspapers worldwide.

It was just another comedy slated for a Christmas release, until Sony Pictures' computer systems were hacked and threats were made against the company for releasing the film. Fearing further reprisals, Sony decided to pull the film on Dec 17.

But on Tuesday, Sony announced that the movie would be available to American viewers via Youtube, Google Play, XBox, and website Seetheinterview.com. Google, Microsoft and Sony are charging US$5.99 (S$7.90) to rent The Interview and US$14.99 to buy it.

It was released in the US at 10am PST on Wednesday, and in Canada about five hours later. Some 315 independently-owned US theatres are also screening it on Christmas day.

Could The Interview, a comedy about two journalists on a mission to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, live up to the brouhaha surrounding it that built up to its much-hyped release on Christmas Day?

As of today, the comedy holds a better than average audience rating of 74 per cent on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, but it has been widely panned by critics.

Here are some of the reviews and tweets:

Giving it two stars, the Washington Post says, "as baggy and undisciplined as The Interview is, the humour is generally harmless and even endearing".

But its review is kinder than Bloomberg Businessweek's, which says it "plays less like a climax and more like the out-takes that filmmakers sometimes roll after the credits".

Rolling Stone cheers it on, giving it 4 stars. "The Interview hits the sweet spot for raunchy fun and spiky lampooning because Franco and Rogen are effing hilarious and fearless about swinging for the fences," it says.

The Boston Globe calls it a "dopey bro-com" and says it was "was bound to disappoint".

Wired complains that it is riddled with "bad CGI and continuity holes". "So yes, I watched this movie. But there is not a lot to say about it: It's a comedy and it's OK. I laughed a few times, and picked up on all the half-ass foreshadowing that excuses itself for moviemaking. If I had seen it in a theater, I would not have walked out, but I might have taken a nap."

The Verge advises readers to spend time with their family at Christmas instead of watching it and ended with a scathing barb: "The Interview is a bad movie that trivializes one of the worst ongoing human rights violations on our planet right now, and its distribution, as integral as it is to our First Amendment rights, will change absolutely nothing."

The reviewer from the San Francisco Chronicle says to go watch it if you like "stoner comedies" and described it as "Harold and Kumar Go to North Korea, or Bill and Ted's Excellent North Korean Adventure or even The Road to Pyongyang starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby."

chuimin@sph.com.sg