New Year and ‘The Interview’

By on January 7, 2015

It’s been a rather predictable couple weeks at the box office (except for the hullabaloo surrounding the release/postponing/release of “The Interview,” see below). “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” has done exactly what film fans expected: three consecutive weeks in the top spot. Two other films rounded out the top three, “Into the Woods” and “Unbroken.”

“Into the Woods,” the film version of the Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine musical features an all-star cast topped with Meryl Streep as the witch. “Unbroken,” directed by Angelina Jolie, is a departure for the screenwriting Cohen brothers and tells the story of Olympian Louis Zamperini’s time in a Japanese P.O.W. camp. But there was another movie on my mind.

James Franco (left) and Seth Rogen portray a pair of talk show aces sent to North Korea to interview/kill Kim Jong-un in poltical satire “The Interview.” (Photo courtesy of yahoo.com)

James Franco (left) and Seth Rogen portray a pair of talk show aces sent to North Korea to interview/kill
Kim Jong-un in poltical satire “The Interview.” (Photo courtesy of yahoo.com)

‘The Interview’

After a rash of hacking at Sony and terroristic threats on theatergoers “The Interview” finally made it to the big screen — on its scheduled release date of Christmas — and is still playing at some local theaters. I took 112 minutes out of my holiday schedule to see what the noise was all about.

Dave Skylark (James Franco) is a hot shot celebrity interviewer enjoying the spoils of his labor (drugs, women, and alcohol in excess) with his producer/friend Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen). Aaron realizes he wants to do more with his broadcasting career than tabloid TV. Enter North Korean leader Kim Jong-un who is somehow a fan of the show and the two are soon off to interview the leader. Before they can go, the two are persuaded by a lovely C.I.A. agent (Lizzy Caplan, “Cloverfield”) to “take out” the supreme leader, played by Randall Park.

The story unwinds like the average buddy flick and is peppered — no, strike that — heavily seasoned with profanity, sexual innuendo, and ultimately gore. There is talk in “The Interview” so over the top I would have blushed in an empty theater. This movie is the perfect fence sitter. If you love Franco and Rogen you’ll look past this chucklefest’s shortcomings and patiently wait for one of their next paired projects (“Zeroville” and “Sausage Party”). If you don’t like potty humor and frat boy hijinks, then you’ll be disgusted with this movie. However, liking or not liking a movie is not what “The Interview” is about anymore, is it?

So, now we know what happens when a film corporation — a rather large corporation at that — satirically murders the leader of North Korea in a comedy and then changes (almost cancels) the release of the movie. People get all excited about a movie they haven’t yet seen and start talking about the right to free speech. Opinions fester and gain momentum. Eventually “The Interview” became more than a college-humor farce and transformed into a vehicle for the debate of national security and terrorism. That is why this movie is brilliant, not because of poop jokes, but because this comedy opened a dialogue with the entire world.

“It is just irresponsible. What did they think would happen?” says Mel S. from New Holland. Hers is one of a number of opinions I’ve encountered in the last couple of weeks; most were similar opinions.

Political satire is no stranger to motion pictures. Charlie Chaplin, the Three Stooges, and even Donald Duck have made a mockery of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime. This is not the first time North Korea has been the butt of jokes; “Team America: World Police” featured a Kim Jong Il puppet. And like “Team America: World Police,” “The Interview” pokes just as much fun at the United States. So, if anyone reading this knows Dennis Rodman, have him tell his boy Kim to just relax. It’s just a movie. Life is too short and will be less well spent if not able to laugh at yourself.

Agree or disagree? Reel Reviews works like this: 1) Watch a movie; 2) Send suggestions, comments and criticism to Michael at SomeProMCU@gmail.com.

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