Belated Film Review: There’s No Guilt In My Pleasure Watching ‘The Interview’

by Kolby Solinsky

White Cover Magazine

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The Interview isn’t really an assault on North Korea, or Kim Jong-Un. I mean, yeah, the whole movie is about killing him. And spoilers, but they succeed. That said, in a movie like this, killing isn’t much of an insult – it sort of means you’re in on the joke. Like how they say you only roast the ones you love, you also only brutally assassinate the ones the audience are loving to hate.

Instead, The Interview is an assault, really, on everyone who takes themselves too seriously.

It’s an assault on convention – a scud missile directed at the very heart of today’s media cycle and the reviews and rumours it spits out, which makes it so ironic this film was temporarily banned in the United States at the request of (what was rumoured to be) some chicken-sh*t shot fired from North Korea. For a few weeks, the movie itself was the news cycle – you had freedom lovers pushing for its release, you had conservative parents worried their theatre in Iowa might actually be the target of a declaration of war, and you had the reaction to the film itself, which was that it wasn’t just silly we were defending The Interview like it was, itself, the American Constitution. It was also silly this movie was even thought to be something that earned its controversy – and really, it’s hilarious.

I loved it. I laughed consistently, the entire time. I’m not sure why I waited so long to see it – although if I hadn’t, I couldn’t call this a Belated Film Review.

I loved every old school-sounding piece of punk or hip-hop that blasted from my Chromecast, whenever Diana Bang’s character Sook would descend from a helicopter or when James Franco and Seth Rogen first arrive at Kim’s palace. I’ve loved the way both actors have completely re-done their comedic approach – from the stoner films of 2007 and before to a more developed, rich-man, spoiled self-critique, like the job in This is the End and Neighbors.

Once the film got going, the gags we were expecting – jokes about North Korea’s propaganda machine, its fake fruit and grocery stores, or something involving the word vagina (this is a Rogen-Franco film, after all) – just sort of evaporated behind a relentlessly funny onslaught of bro humour and surprisingly insightful bits of critique.

Jabs at Nicki Minaj’s “brown sugar” or margaritas being “gay” are one-and-dines in a complete movie that – at once – both demands your attention and tells you you probably have better things to do.

Not saying this movie is All the President’s Men. Not saying it’s an academic look at journalism or its place in Western life. Just saying, it was accurate – accurate in its honesty, for sure.

The critical take would be, this is such a wacky movie, you shouldn’t want to enjoy it. When really, that’s the entire reason you should. (And often, I find, it’s in obvious fiction where the most scathing truths can be told. Biopics have to be factual – comedy can shine a light, tear from the limb, and leave with a soda in hand.)

The Interview doesn’t intend to tell you you shouldn’t watch celebrity-trashy shows like Skylark and it didn’t tell you to stand up and defend Rogen’s character when he’s bent over the coals by a douchey former colleague, who now works at 60 Minutes and thinks he’s better than everyone who’s not getting deployed overseas to cover someone dying somewhere you might not pronounce properly.

Instead, The Interview’s aim was to unfold the box and let you gawk and digest. And it succeeded. Wildly.

The same people who say a silly, stupid comedy can’t make a comment on something smarter are going to be the same people who (hypocritically) get inspired by that Charlie Chaplin speech. They’re the same people who write stories called the ’10 Most Upsetting Moments in The Interview’ – ah, an absurdly absurd headline above an absurdly all-too-serious review of an absurd movie that’s intentionally absurd. How absurd.

Here’s a snip from a 1.5-star review by Slant Magazine’s Chris Cabin:

“For all the hoopla that’s been made over the Sony hack and Kim’s demands that the film be pulled from release, The Interview is all talk, a sheep in wolf’s clothing, which makes its frivolous politics all the more odious.”

Well, look at that, you can use words likes odious, can you?

The thing with those disapproving of Rogen and Franco’s finished product is, they seem to be upset at the same time that the movie’s (1) not serious enough (‘a sheep in wolf’s clothing’ and ‘frivolous politics’) and (2) it’s not stupid enough. Really, it’s not exactly what they wanted, but who’s to say they know the way to the right menu? (If last night’s Academy Awards proved anything, it’s that hardly do the ones in the audience know what’s funny about the comedy they’ve been performing.)

So much of the idea supporting the film’s release – when it looked like it’d never get released – were that this was just a dumb comedy, and slapstick shouldn’t be censored because, after all, it’s slapstick. And satire.

(Much of that exchange between Rogen’s soap-opera-ish producer character and the 60 Minutes big shot can be just as fairly project to the film’s critics – can’t you just sit down, shut up, and enjoy some fluff once in a while?)

Is it Rogen or Franco’s fault their film became the central product in a fight to pretend we’re free from censorship? No, of course not. But it’s worked out for them, and it’s almost like they planned the whole thing.

I refuse to believe either of these longtime co-stars thought they were producing anything other than a meta masterpiece – their characters’ controversial quest to North Korea and America’s obsession with the to-be-released interview mirrored almost exactly the film’s real-life hype and controversy. There are jabs at Ron Howard and at Frost/Nixon (which Franco incorrectly calls ‘Frosty Nixon’), an obvious sign Rogen and his co-writer Evan Goldberg are very aware of who’s watching this and what parallels they’ll think of when they see it.

And if you still thought this movie was a sheep in wolf’s clothing, a missed shot by two archers who thought they were aiming at a bull’s eye, then I’ll remind you of something: Kim Jong-Un shits his pants in the interview.