“The Interview” is politically funny yet is it that dangerous?
Never has there been a film that has gotten so much talk then “The Interview.” The only movie I can think of that ever got so much buzz was Michael Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate” in 1980. But while that movie get publicity over its disastrous screenings and production woes, “The Interview” is getting this for different reasons. Its a comedy that is attacking political material and string up a lot of trouble with its source of parody that being North Korea and its current dictator. There’s so much back-story that lead to the cancellation of its theatrical release on Christmas Day, that it could be turned into a novel. The short story is that Sony Pictures got pressure from many different fields. North Korea’s government being upset of the depiction of its ruler, a group of Internet hackers that cracked into Sony’s secret e-mails while leaking them upon the public in protest to stop showing the movie and even theater chains not booking “Interview” in fear of possible attacks. Well, now that is getting a limited run in theaters and recently released onto the Internet via streaming sites for all to see, just exactly how “controversial” is this film? Is the parody material really that shocking to the point it is an “act of war”? Personally, I think it depends on cinematic taste.
James Franco stars as a celebrity journalist named David Skylark that delivers interviews on famous celebrities ranging from gossip to all-out reveals. His right-hand partner and producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogan) feels they should do more real news considering how low he thinks of his position delivering news about Rob Low being bald compared to harder stories like America at war. As luck may have it, Aaron manages to get an interview with North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un, who also happens to be a fan of David’s show, in hopes of escalating their popularity from gossip to something more gripping. This also catches the attention of the CIA who try to convince them to assassinate the leader and you can see where some of the controversy lies.
Its not till we get to North Korea that David has second thoughts about killing Kim Jong-un after spending much time with him as its revealed Kim is more of a party animal that wants to be loved than one to rule with an iron fist. Its weird because the actor they chose to portray this version of Kim Jong-un almost resembles him. What makes it work is that we know its not the real thing and accept it as a mirror parody. If they got an actor that looked like him right down to face and stature, then the comedy would be lost. I understand why some would be upset by this portrayal as it paints a fearless leader into a big kid but I don’t think its focused too much to the point its trying to put him in a negative light.
I really think the movie is more of an attack on modern day media and how fake celebrities are. This is something Family Guy or South Park would do and its better fitting there as it lasts 30 minutes. Because this is a movie, there’s so much room for satire that we as viewers expect it as a driving force for the story. The first half sets up so well how much news is delivered when it comes to something serious compared to that of entertainment value that I feel its the bigger heart of the picture. So when David sits down with Kim Jong-un for the eventful interview, we ask if all of this is real news or just there for entertainment? I think that is far more clever than poking fun at a tyrant or our own government.
Of course, they do have Kim Jong-un do things like play basketball with Skylark or ride around in a tank to Katy Perry’s “Fireworks.” I’m more surprised to see that is not really the center here. They could have easily done something like The Great Dictator and have Kim Jong-un be this cartoony bad guy. Even at times, you don’t know if you should sympathize or see him for the fraud that he is depicted in the movie. Again, they could have easily done this 1980s stylized depiction where he’s cold and heartless but they at least give some breathing room to avoid that trap.
With that said and done, how else does the rest of the movie fair up? Well, as said before tastes will vary as this is a Seth Rogan/James Franco vehicle. So if your unfamiliar with “The Pineapple Express” or didn’t like that classic stoner comedy, there’s a good chance you might not like this one either. The jokes are the usual sex innuendos and stunts that one would expect from an R rated comedy that is trying to push the boundaries wither it be Rogan shoving a canister in his rectum to avoid troops or erection talks. Its the standard stuff one is to expect from a raunchy comedy like this so it didn’t surprise much. I can’t say I didn’t laugh as I did find most of it amusing but what what you see is very much what you are to expect.
Also, I think the first two-thirds are more stand-out than the final act. Not to nitpick too much, but the tone shifts to this overly-stylized, action set piece that feels straight out of a Rambo movie. Not to give too much away, but it really pushes the violence to the point its funny in how over the top it gets or gruesome in how bloody it gets. I won’t say its too much seeing how comedic it is portrayed but again, some viewers might be squint at the sight of fingers getting bitten off or soldiers getting shot in the head. There’s one death I especially found so over the top to the point I couldn’t stop laughing. I don’t think its that gory but again, tastes vary.
So, is “The Interview” really that bad of a movie to go at war over? Personally, I don’t think so. I actually watched this with my mother who also felt that it was pointless to be upset over a dumb comedy (which she surprisingly enjoyed). Even I myself feel its not mocking a leader but more mocking a media’s portrayal. I do give credit for its fierce take without making up a fake country and leader but it makes you wonder what would it have been like if they went that route. Would it have been too safe or is it better to take that risk? I didn’t make the movie but I can say this one is worth checking out just for those reasons I said before. I like the direction of the satire and even if the Seth Rogan/James Franco banter goes on a bit too long , it can be really funny when it is. While I don’t think its a “must-see” picture, I do think it is worth seeing just to understand where the controversy is coming from and again just how the satire is handled. See it for what it is and judge for yourself.
Posted on December 25, 2014, in In Theaters (Sort of), Rental Corner and tagged 2014, assassination, Comedy, James Franco, Kim Jong-un, North Korea, Parody, Pineapple Express, political, Rambo, Seth Rogan, Sony, The Interview. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.