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‘The Interview’: a humorous view of real-world controversies

Film’s political poignancy lies in external free speech debate, not hit-or-miss bro banter between stars

“You know what’s more destructive than a nuclear bomb? Words,” says North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s character, played by Randall Park, in the film “The Interview.” In the wake of North Korea’s cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and threats of violence against the United States, the film starring Seth Rogen and James Franco has garnered worldwide attention.

The film centers on the antics of Dave Skylark and Aaron Rapoport, two celebrity television journalists who discover that Kim is a huge fan of their show “Skylark Tonight.” The journalists land an interview with the dictator, and the Central Intelligence Agency enlists the duo to assassinate him. What ensues can only be described as a tornado of moronic fumbles and unnecessary gore, punctuated by brief moments of genius comedic timing. The cast also includes Lizzy Kaplan as Agent Lacey and Diana Bang as Sook.

But formulating an opinion purely on the film itself is nearly impossible, as articles, opinions, Facebook statuses and Golden Globe speeches batter the viewer from every angle. On Dec. 25, a small number of theaters released “The Interview,” which is now available to stream online. Netflix will release the film Jan. 24. “The Interview” was set to be released nationwide October 2014, but in June, the North Korean government threatened “merciless” action against the United States if Sony released the film in American theaters, according to a statement from the North Korean government on North Korea’s national news site. Sony postponed the film’s release and nearly cancelled it when The Guardians of Peace, a group that may have North Korean ties, hacked the company. The group leaked sensitive information about Sony and demanded the company cancel the film’s release,  condemning the film as an act of terrorism.

Here is what can be definitively said: If you can swallow a disturbingly large dose of butt jokes, white guys using Asian accents and Katy Perry music, some of the back-and-forth banter between Franco and Rogen is actually worth the wait. Without any major spoilers, an out-of-context quote includes, “It’s 2014! Women are smart now!” At one point, Franco describes John Kerry as an “oak-tree-looking fuck.”

An entertaining “Lord of the Rings” dialogue peppered the entire film: “You are the Samwise to my Frodo. You are also the Gandalf to my Frodo. I am Smeagol, and you are my precious.”

Despite a few funny nuggets, political satire is far too generous a label for this film. Sure, Rapoport briefly addresses many of the atrocities committed in North Korea, while trying to convince Skylark to follow through with the assassination, but all in all, “The Interview” focuses more on shock value than on policy or nuanced views on oppressive dictatorships.

The best way to enjoy the film is to grab your teenage brother, turn off your analytical brain for two hours and prepare to laugh out loud at poop jokes. If you are looking for something that lives up to its media hype or delivers a stunning portrayal of North Korea, you are streaming the wrong film.


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