Now available for home viewing without international incident, the juvenile misfire that was demolished by critics in North Korea and the Stateside press corps. Common ground, at last! At heart, a sort of updated Bing Crosby/Bob Hope ‘Road Pic’ comedy (THE ROAD TO PYONGYANG?), James Franco dumbs-down Crosby’s old-smoothy act, while Seth Rogen tries on Hope’s panicky hyperventilating. The plot (LOL) has tv host Franco’s fluke interview with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un turned into an impromptu assassination assignment by the CIA. (That really is like THE ROAD TO BALI/’52!) And it might have come off if only the film earned a few more laughs. (For the record, there are three; and one of those goes to Rob Lowe in a cameo.) Rogen co-directs in an ADD mode that only makes things more painful when the gags miss, but does manage to stumble thru in his usual blobby manner for those who respond. But what to make of Franco's comedic self-destruct? It almost makes you feel sorry for the Execs @ Columbia. Almost. Blearily emerging from dailies or rough cuts; wracking their brains for constructive criticism beyond ‘Off With Their Heads!’
DOUBLE-BILL: Gregory Peck, with a bomb in his brain & a ping-pong date with Mao, plays a straight, if limp version of this in THE CHAIRMAN/’69.