The irony of the whole Sony hacking episode may turn out to be that ‘The Interview’ got far more attention and far more viewership than it would have if it had lumbered into movie theaters as originally planned.
That’s because, according to most critics, the movie itself is pretty lame and certainly not worthy of all the fuss being made over its fate. Had the movie not received such unwanted publicity by being the subject of an alleged attack by North Korean hackers seeking to block its release, critics seem to think it likely would have quickly faded from the big screen and disappeared into the quiet afterlife of modest iTunes downloads and Netflix streaming.
“If North Koreans bothered to actually watch ‘The Interview,’ even they might ask: A cyber attack on a movie studio over this? Threats of 9/11-level attacks on theaters that planned to play it? FBI and Homeland Security manpower tied up by it? Daily White House briefings?” wrote Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times.
Instead, the movie has retained instant-legend status thanks to Sony first pulling the movie from release then agreeing to let some art houses show it on Christmas and then striking a deal to make the film available to watch online.
Watching the movie has become an occasion to support free speech and to muse about whether it portends a transformation of media distribution models. Weighty stuff. But alas, it may not actually entertain or amuse.
Over on Rotten Tomatoes, critics gave it the big thumbs down, with a 50 percent approval rating that no doubt means it will fail to earn a “fresh” stamp of approval.
“Yet the remarkably dismal quality is emblematic of the mindset that brought the movie, and its attendant crises, into being,” wrote Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal.
Of course, the movie does have its supporters and some favorable reviews. A.O. Scott of the New York Times writes:
“‘The Interview’ is pretty much what everyone thought it would be before all the trouble started: a goofy, strenuously naughty, hit-and-miss farce, propelled not by any particular political ideas but by the usual spectacle of male sexual, emotional and existential confusion. It turned out to be perfect laptop viewing, apart from an occasionally wonky Wi-Fi connection.”