Interview More Than Caricature

Rachel Jin, Staff Writer

After more than a week of vacillating under North Korea’s bold fulminations and America’s defensive declarations, Uncle Sam finally dropped the bomb (figuratively) and the hotly debated The Interview hit theaters on December 24.

The satirical spoof played on the big screen in select movie theaters and became available for purchase on YouTube.

That James Franco and Seth Rogen’s latest project has become a worldwide controversy is an irony that can be traced back only to the petulance of today’s world leaders. Once an obscure project lingering at the peripherals of Hollywood’s focus, the recently-turned blockbuster is a mordant jibe at North Korea’s dictator; while the short trailers earned quite a few laughs from American viewers, North Korean officials apparently and justifiably found a motion picture about the assassination of their supreme leader to be pretty Kim Jong-Uncool.

The threats fired at Sony, as well as an elaborate hack of the company’s computing system, allegedly curated by North Korean nationalists, forced the film’s premier to be delayed.

Since it’s a James Franco and Seth Rogen movie, and my expectations had already been established (a substandard plot held together by ridiculous and inappropriate dialogue), I hit that green $5.99 button on YouTube and gave it a run.

A lengthly film of 1 hour and 52 minutes, The Interview, though convoluted, was punctuated by riotous humor. After a reunion with a longtime friend, who, though holding a similar job title, has achieved more success, Rogen’s Aaron Rapoport questions his position as producer for the renowned entertainment talk show, Skylark Tonight, and wishes that show host Dave Skylark, portrayed by Franco, would tackle more serious topics and hold himself to higher journalistic standards.

Upon discovering North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un’s longtime fixation with Skylark, Aaron manages to secure an appearance on the show by Kim himself. Despite Dave’s enthusiasm, the news is received  poorly by the media, and they proceed to vilify Skylark as a sympathizer of Kim, who has allegedly committed such cruelties as mass murder and intentional impoverishment of North Korean citizens.

Rogen and Franco are approached by CIA agent Lacey, portrayed by Mean Girls alum Lizzy Caplan, who proposes that Dave and Aaron utilize this opportunity to perform a coup d’état, using a transdermal ricin strip to assassinate the dictator. Dave’s attraction to Lacey compels him to accept, and the two navigate the obscure country of North Korea, while trying to resist the charisma of a manipulative Kim Jong-Un.

Though not without Rogen’s directorial trademarks, such as a weak storyline and undeveloped characters, the Interview undeniably fulfilles its intentions as a comedy, infused with bits of humor even in scenes of supposed gravity.

The charm of the movie is, albeit powerful, ephemeral. Many of my personal preferences, ranging from classics like Kill Bill and Psycho to modern romantic comedies and action thrillers such as We’re The Millers and The Heat, have a certain ineffable quality that somehow makes repeated viewings bearable, even enjoyable.  Though old, the jokes remain funny, and I still laugh when Marlon Wayans fakes a “BF” in White Chicks.

Various critics have suggested that The Interview, beneath its raunchy surface, is a troubling attack on international diplomacy and American ideals. Devin Faracci of  Badass Digest wrote that “If you can make it through the first fifteen minutes you’ll be rewarded with a movie that’s very funny, emotionally deep and has more, perhaps, to say about American interventionism than it does about the real Kim Jong Un.”

I think that the audience is having trouble accepting that The Interview may not hold much significance and is simply meant to be a film about two clueless young men, burdened with a treacherous task, trying to navigate their way through troubles in a foreign country.

I do think that The Interview provides a powerful message. The film exposes the true horrors faced by North Koreans.

In regard to the scene in which a grocery store displays crates of plastic food rather than real fruits, Lee Han-byeol, a North Korean defector, explained that “in fact, there are no fake grocery stores in North Korea, but the fake store represents something very real. The North Korean government never allows foreigners to see the miserable reality of some North Korean residents. They are guided to the spots designated as ‘good places’ for publicising North Korea as a ‘wonderful country.'”