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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Film Review: 'The Interview'

Sonia Gumuchian |
December 19, 2014 | 2:47 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

The Interview World Premiere (Sonia Gumuchian/Neon Tommy)
The Interview World Premiere (Sonia Gumuchian/Neon Tommy)

Amid all this chaos—with the public bringing free speech into question and leaders unsure of how to counter cyber terrorism—It is interesting to note how "The Interview," a subpar and half-baked comedy, is making history and opening up the flood gates to a new type of warfare.

Two idiots, Dave Skylark (James Franco) and Aaron Rappaport (Seth Rogen), travel to North Korea with the orders of killing the country's supreme leader, Kim Jong-Un (Randall Park). With the help of Lizzy Caplan, who plays some sort of hot, one-dimensional CIA agent, the rambunctious host of a talk show and his more level-headed producer are assigned with the task of stealthily placing poison on Kim's hand—killing him with no trace left. As a huge fan of Dave Skylark's show, Kim invites the two men to prep for a live-broadcasted interview showing all across the world.

This buddy comedy could be classified as a poor man's "This is the End." If it was to be released (UPDATE: it now will), it would have done well, as Rogen fans would get exactly what was promised in the trailer. How could we leave the theater satisfied without over-the-top drug-induced slow-motion party sequences, unprecedented love scenes, and ridiculous music?

Surprisingly enough, Kim Jong-Un was presented in a better light than expected. The man sang along to Katy Perry's "Firework," for god sake! He was shown more as a silly caricature instead of a brooding villain, which is possibly the greatest insult of all. Throughout the film, Dave bonded with the supreme leader, full of partying you would probably find at a frat house rather than the house of an infamous dictator. Although ridiculous, Dave's invitation rings true to that of Dennis Rodman's a couple of years back (even though I doubt Rodman came back to America with a cute puppy as a gift, just as Dave did in the movie)

James Franco plays Dave Skylark, a bumbling talk show host (@TheInterview/Twitter)
James Franco plays Dave Skylark, a bumbling talk show host (@TheInterview/Twitter)

For the limited number of people who've actually seen and critiqued the film, two major themes have been touched on: the sophomoric humor and misogynistic undertones. First of all, of course the humor is sophomoric and half-baked. But what were you expecting? Most scenes felt as if Rogen and Goldberg said "go for it" and let everyone engage in lazy improv. Even though all the recent news surrounding this movie may make it sound like a ground breaking satirical social commentary, it is not. It, instead is a silly movie with absurd characters who engage in a farce. It will make you laugh, but won't give you much opportunity to think, as there isn't really a statement to be said other than "look how crazy these guys can get."

Secondly, misogynistic? No. Even though the two female characters in this film had no purpose other than to show cleavage or have sex with Seth Rogen, I'd write it off as lazy writing other than any intention to subvert a female presence, or anything like that. But then again, no character (even Seth's or James') had any true purpose other than to provide a joke.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the film to some extent; there were some original moments, nicely executed action scenes and cute character dynamics—notably the short-lived bromance with Dave Skylark and Kim Jung-Un. Overall it was worth a watch, although it will be hard-especially now—to meet the unrealistic expectations of this so-called game changer movie.

Rest assured, this will not be the end for "The Interview," as Sony intends to release the movie "on a different platform" in the future. The studio could lose$75 million over the cancellation of the film, as any insurance would barely cover anything while releasing the movie on VOD will not gain back the profit a theatrical release would bring in. Perhaps Mitt Romney's idea to stream the film on the internet for all to see may be the answer, as long as SONY puts aside monetary losses and instead focuses on the more prevalent issue at hand.

Many blame the studio's executives for digging themselves an avoidable grave. For one, why insist to depict Kim Jung-Un, instead of alluding to him using a fake character? Some might say it was poor judgement to go forth with the movie in the first place, considering Sony executives residing in Japan have been worried about the film's release for months. As if the studio was not getting enough scrutiny for Amy Pascal's leaked emails compromising her position due to Sony's weak cyber security, President Obama added fuel to Sony's fire on Friday as he criticized the studio's decision to cancel the distribution.


As for the decision to cancel the film, it's safe to say Sony's fear of liability lead to the drastic choice. No one can know for sure, but it would be unlikely that North Korea would dare harm any audience members attending the movie—one does not need to look twice at the size of America's military to realize going forward with attack would not end well. Yes, chairman and CEO Michael Lynton claimed the majority theater chains choosing to not show the film forced the studio to shut down the project, but if a situation arose where a deranged individual (even if not affiliated with North Korea) attacked even a single audience member at any "The Interview" screening, Sony would be at fault.

With threats facing Sony from every angle, the studio entered a no-win scenario. There is no easy way to respond to a war we cannot understand, as releasing the movie could cause unfortunate incidents while not releasing the movie has caused a monstrous uproar placing SONY in an awful spot. So instead of burning Amy Pascal at the stake for her insensitive emails or calling the studio executives cowards, can we just acknowledge the ridiculousness of this insane situation and accept there is no perfect course of action to take. It feels like we're living in the dark ages, as the Korean King Joffrey is dictating what we can watch.

Yes, somehow this silly movie will leave a legacy greater than it's worth, but rest assured I want everyone to watch this film not because of its cinematic genius but because we should have the freedom to.

Hey North Korea: Don't hate us 'cause you 'aint us.

Reach Staff Reporter Sonia Gumuchianhere. Follow her on Twitter here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

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