An open letter to Kim Jong-un.
Relax, dude. I’ve seen “The Interview” and I really wouldn’t sweat it if I were you. If ever a movie weren’t worth all this hand-wringing, it’s this one. Yes, yes, yes, I know the satiric premise of the whole Two Stooges farce is that a couple of mega-doofuses in the infotainment biz are recruited by the CIA to knock you off during an interview.
Not very respectful, to be sure.
But so help me when all is said and done, the movie is a contest about who comes off worse: the people who ponied up $44 million to make it plus-umpteen millions in publicity, or your regime, your nation and you specifically, with all your cruelties and pretensions. The movie tries to indict you for your country’s starvation and concentration camps, but neither its heart nor its brain are in it.
What the movie really wants to do is what our more stupid comedies often do – convince the audience that the stupidest slobs in our comedies are better than any other country’s self-declared gods.
Forget completely Borat from Kazakhstan, whose richest jokes in “Borat” were at the expense of Americans. If “The Interview” had come from Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray in their prime, it might have had a chance. With these guys? Forget it.
Let’s just say that when the movie is over, it doesn’t quite close the sale. I don’t really know who comes off worse.
There was some applause at the conclusion of the first screening of the film at the Flix Theater, but so much nonsense had to happen before this thing made it to movie screens and Internet sites at all that I think people applauded the ability to see the movie as much as the movie itself.
Please, Mr. Kim, focus intently on Randall Park, the actor who plays you. He is, in the great Hollywood tradition, considerably tougher looking and more appealing in every way than you are in the news clips we’ve seen.
Now, not every powerful leader can be physically inspirational. Napoleon, for one, was a famous shrimp. Alexander the Great wasn’t exactly a WWE wrestler either, according to history. Let’s not even talk about Ryan Seacrest. So in the image sweepstakes, you can score yourself an accidental bushel of points right away, just for the casting.
At the end, the worst that it does is place you, human, under the most undignified circumstances that our infantile comedies love to laugh at – with a lachrymose affection for Katy Perry ditties and a tendency to lose sphincter control under psychological duress.
Not pretty, I’ll grant you. But when movies are as infantile as this one is, the best it can do to undermine others is to turn them into big babies.
But if you consider the comedy that’s yucking it up so uproariously at your expense, it’s coming off just as bad, if not worse.
Not right away, of course.
The idea here is that James Franco and Seth Rogen are TV mega-morons whose TV infotainment show deals with C-grade celeb journalism. The host, played by Franco, is Dave Skylark. His producer and BFF is Aaron Rappaport, played by Seth Rogen.
There’s an Eminem “interview” to kick off the yucks that’s actually funny.
But then it turns out that among Skylark’s biggest fans is Kim Jong-un of North Korea. At that point, no one in this universe can explain the puerility of the “edge” involved in not fictionalizing your name. Chaplin’s precedent in “The Great Dictator” was there for anyone with any brains to see.
Then the redoubtable Lizzy Caplan of “Masters of Sex” shows up as a CIA agent to try convince the two halves of this dimwit bromance that they’d be doing the world a service if they turned an “interview” with you into an assassination by Ricin.
Any parent expecting some sort of Danny Kaye farce at this point needs to understand that the film is R-rated for a good reason.
From there we’re asked to watch: Skylark filling his conversation with “Lord of the Rings” references; jokes about Asian names that double as American slang for private parts; Skylark observing often that others are “peanut butter and jealous … they hate us because they ain’t us”; Skylark observing in his habitually terminal cluelessness that “this is 2014, women are smart now”; jokes about fat North Korean children; and, in another scene, North Korean children suddenly smeared with the blood of a murdered Korean general.
For a movie making semi-decent Matthew McConaughey and Ellen DeGeneres jokes, it is taking its “edge” out to a lot of places that are hard for all of us in the audience to follow.
What sets in at the end of the film is the suspicion that no one really had any idea what they really wanted to do but that a Hollywood studio was willing to plunk down $44 million to let them do it.
Where that leaves you at the end is with a movie whose indictment of you is so crass and so feeble that it may cause some to have the only semi-respectful thoughts they’ve ever had about your country and your regime.
If ever a movie provided rich proof that there are many reasons indeed for people to “hate us” beyond the fact that they “ain’t us,” it’s this one.
The Three Stooges not only had one more stooge – compared to this, they also had honor and dignity.
2 stars (Out of four)
R for sex, nudity, a lot of rough language and puerile crudity
Seth Rogen and James Franco make the world safe for slob American comedies in a cinematic embarrassment contest against North Korea. The movie behind the controversy.