The Interview Overview and Review

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Even now, all the controversy surrounding The Interview seems distant and hard to believe. I mean, just a little while ago, not even a few months, James Franco and Seth Rogen made a movie that had to be temporarily cancelled because North Korea threatened to blow us up for it. That still sounds made up.

But it isn’t, and as the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. And if you were living under a rock during that time, basically Rogen and Franco made a movie (The Interview), about a trash TV host (Franco) and his producer/best friend (Rogen). They find out the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un (played exceptionally well by Randall Park), is a big fan and would like it if they would interview him (Hey! Thats the name of the movie). As you can imagine, stupid hijinks ensue.

It really should have ended there. Why couldn’t it have just been another light, fun comedy that comes along like any other without making waves?

Because it’s about North Korea. That’s why.

Kim can’t take a joke and didn’t want a movie mocking him getting released (like the movie was ever going to be released there anyway). He threatened us (The U.S, that is) to not release it, and like most things North Korea says to us, we just ignored them.

Then the SONY leaks happened.

“Someone” hacked into SONY and released countless confidential documents containing copies of unreleased movies, private emails, personal information about the employees, and other assorted files. And shortly after that, they got another email from these guys, calling themselves the Guardians of Peace (GOP) threatening to blow up the theaters playing The Interview and reminded us “to remember the 11th of September, 2001”. That’s all it took. Franco and Rogen stopped doing publicity tours, all ads were taken downs, theater chains refused to distribute it, and SONY pulled the film from release. And just like that, it seemed to vanish.

This is where people’s opinions become divided. Did SONY do the right thing by pulling it, or were they being cowards towards Korea and letting them repress our freedom of speech? While it’s easy to get caught up in all the post-9/11 patriotism, with all the we’ll-never-back-down and no-one-tells-us-what-to-do mindsets, I can’t really criticize their decision. We don’t know the extent they’ll go to, and some dumb comedy isn’t worth risking the lives of innocent citizens to find out. So that decision I can somewhat understand.

Of course, this didn’t mean it’ll never be seen. Eventually someone would find it and leak it to the public, and I guess SONY realized this too, so The Interview was finally given a theatrical release (in about 400 theaters) and was released video on demand for those of us who don’t live near those theaters or who are just too lazy to get up and go to one. Of course, nothing happened to us after this, unless Kim calling Obama a monkey counts. So why other theater chains didn’t realize we were danger-free and give it its deserved wide-release, I don’t know. But we could now see the movie that generated so much controversy. And the general consensus was…?

Meh. It’s just OK. It wasn’t worth the hype. This seemed to be the words on most people’s lips who saw it. Which is frustrating, because it’s  actually a pretty funny movie. It just had the unfortunate pleasure of being overshadowed by all the news surrounding it. Rogen and Franco both are typically funny, and bounce off each other well. The premise is silly enough to generate more than enough laughs to justify its existence. But for me, the best aspect of the movie was Randall Park’s portrait of the dictator himself, Mr. Kim Jong-un.

It’s a big role to do, and he’s a relatively unknown actor. Add to that most of the humor relies on how good or bad he portrays the great dictator, so needless to say he had a lot resting on him. And boy does he pull it off. He does the seemingly impossible job of making him a quiet, shy, and awkward person who just wants to be normal. You start seeing things from his eyes, and like Franco’s character, you begin to really like the guy and feel for him. But he can also be cold and calculated when the plot needs him to be, and the transfer between these two sides is seamless.

Like most comedies, at some point they need to introduce a serious plot element to extend the run time and give it a three act structure. And like all comedies that do this, it begins to drag a little as the humor stops so conflict can happen. So sadly, right after its funny and clever first act, it kind of sags in the middle and isn’t as funny then. But it picks up, and the last half hour or so is actually the funniest part of the movie. And the actual “interview” the title promises doesn’t disappoint; it’s one of the funniest movie moments of the year.

So after everything’s said and done, forget the controversy and watch The Interview with as open of a mind as possible. And whatever you do, don’t be one of those people who say “it wasn’t worth the hype”. WHAT HYPE? You mean the hype where North Korea threatened to kill us if we showed it? That wasn’t hype. That was Kim Jong-un being Kim Jong-un. It had nothing to do with how good it was; it had to do with the fact we depicted him on film. So it shouldn’t affect your opinion of the film. Which is, by the way, a funny and breezy movie.

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