As a long-time James Franco fan, I am generally supportive of his various but oft-perplexing endeavours (his Instagram gallery is more than adequate proof of this). Yet when I first heard that he and Seth Rogen, Hollywood's favourite bromance, were making a movie about assassinating Kim Jong-un - I balked. This is a terrifying and ill-advised idea, I thought to myself. Indeed, when threats from North Korea began rolling in, I could not help but ascertain that Sony should have seen this coming. But when the movie was ACTUALLY pulled from cinemas - what?! That's when the maddening injustice of the whole hacking business and controversy regarding the film began to settle in.
Obama put it best: "We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States."
So, The Interview was finally released (not only in select cinemas, but also online - a first for Sony) and I watched it last night. Unsurprisingly, it channels the same crude humour and vulgar language from Pineapple Express and This is the End. Yet The Interview is a standout film from Seth's repertoire, especially in light of the drama it has aroused.
Firstly, the movie is actually pretty funny. Seth makes effective use of juxtaposition throughout: an innocent-looking girl sings a terrorist anthem at the beginning of the movie, Katy Perry's Firework is the soundtrack to the supreme leader's airborne incineration and Dave runs out of the compound clutching a puppy (an ADORABLE puppy).
So, Seth Rogen knows what he is doing! One particular critic has argued that Randall Park and Diana Bang deliver the best performances in the movie, but I disagree. I was especially impressed by Rogen's acting chops in the taxi scene (racist as his Chinese accent was).
His partner in crime, James Franco, pulls off an incredible and memorable Dave Skylark in The Interview. Uninformed, unreasonable, impressionable, shallow, self-centered, unprofessional, caring, goodnatured, presumptuous, unabashed - Franco is all of this and he is brilliant. Watching his energetic performance, one wouldn't imagine that this is the same guy who, with shades over his eyes and a baseball cap pulled down low, shuffles wearily down a line of selfie-ready fans after weekly showings of Of Mice and Men.
Yet it is the goofy Dave Skylark who finally delivers the most serious line of the movie: "So why don't you feed them?" Directed at his interviewee, the supreme leader of North Korea himself, this question segues into great scripted conversation between Dave and Kim that reveals the vulnerability of both men. There's Dave, who - although unabashed on the outside - is hurt by the media's criticism of him (like James??). Well, he gets by through subscribing to his maxim: They hate us 'cause they ain't us. Then there's Kim, who still finds himself living in his father's shadow and has to disguise his love for foreign entertainment (specifically, Katy Perry). Despite the "seriousness" of the second part of the interview itself, however, the movie still retains its farce because Dave (as he even insists on mentioning) only has his great epiphany about Kim's tyranny because of a GRAPEFRUIT.
Structurally, the pacing of the movie is sublime. The plot unravels brilliantly, except for Dave and Kim's first encounter - that segment was slow, uninspiring and unconvincing. Yet the movie as a whole wraps up well and ties the whole storyline together. Dave is saved by a bulletproof vest, he and Aaron get rescued by SEAL and he gets to write his final tell-all (just as he predicted). Democratic elections will be held in NK, Kim is out of the picture and Sook has gotten Skype.
Near the end of the film, however, not everything is all smiles. On the boat with Dave and his adorable puppy, Aaron remarks that he was "honeypotted" by Sook, just as Dave was initially "honeypotted" by Agent Lacey; they were both manipulated to cooperate with others' plans. Although both incidents of "honeypotting" were done for a good cause, the whole concept of "honeypotting" (if a woman is behind it) or "honeydicking" (if a man is behind it) extends beyond the movie.
I cannot believe the following sentence is about to be published on my blog, but - is Kim Jong-un not the greatest honeydicker of all? In the movie, we only see him honeydicking the gullible Dave so that he will ask him 'good questions' during their interview (which, as he furiously says afterwards, failed). In the movie, Kim bursts into tears and destroys his carefully-crafted cult of personality on live TV. In real life, however, he continues to honeydick a nation.
So, The Interiew is entertaining, silly, crude, sometimes gruesome and packed with perfect (actually perfect) LoTR references - but it is also a comedy that exposes the consequences of "honeydicking." You might forever remember The Interview as that-Seth-Rogen-and-James-Franco-film-that-exacerbated-NK-US-relations, but also remember it for its message: don't be honeydicked.