Luke McLaughlin’s review published on Letterboxd:
Directors: Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen
Screenwriter: Dan Sterling
Cinematographer: Brandon Trost
Editor: Evan Henke
Main Cast: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, Randall Park, Diana Bang
You know what’s more destructive than a nuclear bomb?... Words. - Kim Jong-un
Maybe ‘the media’ is manipulating you! - Dave Skylark
Sook: How many times can the U.S. make the same mistake?
Aaron Rapaport: As many times as it takes!
So, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way quickly. Is this film offensive, absolutely yes. The large majority of North Korean citizens are painted as a stereotype: military driven, repressed, and gleefully (at least in public) naive to the world around them. Kim Jong-un is politically sexualized to a disturbing level, and it is in his representation that the North Korean “government” had so many problems. He is turned into a feminine, unjustly violent, lying, daddy’s boy. This should be offensive to a government that holds their leader in high regard, no matter how liberal or conservative. Think if Barack Obama were portrayed that way by a foreign entity we considered an enemy of the state. Plenty of public outrage would occur from that film. With all these details stated, The Interview was far less offensive than I expected. Not every North Korean character is painted as a villain, which unfortunately happens far to often when an American film features citizens of another nation. War films have been doing it for generations, action films consistently feature villains with thick foreign accents, and hell, even children’s cartoons are guilty of this crime. It was refreshing and surprising to see a movie, justly marketed as a comedic romp, not completely disrespect an entire race of people. It was not as racially sensitive as it could have been, but it could have been so so so much worse. Also, before we leave the topic, bravo Dan Sterling for creating a strong female character in this film. Sook is a complete badass with her own thoughts and decision-making skills. This surprised me more than anything else in the entire film.
James Franco may be one of the worst, best actors in the business. I watch a film like The Interview, Pineapple Express, or This is the End and I cannot help but be annoyed by Franco. He overacts, he soils his comedic delivery, and in general is just a complete and utter pest to my eye sockets and eardrums. However, I respect him for all the independent work he does. His dedication to supporting and promoting unknown filmmakers is commendable. I just wish he would stop making terrible movies.
Seth Rogen, once my self-proclaimed least favorite actor, has grown on me. I remember sitting in the theater balling my eyes out to 50/50 and thinking, “damn, Rogen is good in this film.” Ever since that day I admire Rogen a little bit more. Like Franco, Rogen dabbles in his own film-making. Though more mainstream than Franco’s, I prefer his personal work. If Rogen could lay off the marijuana-induced characters, he could actually be a respectable performer. Franco out does Rogen in the dumbassery department in The Interview. However, this does not remove the fact that when Franco and Rogen share the silver screen together, Rogen’s level of annoyingness spikes considerably. I want more of the 50/50 Rogen, and a lot less of the Franco Rogen. Is that so much to ask?
I had to watch The Interview twice to fully grasp what I felt about the film. Though the North Korean “government” attempted to shutdown the filmmakers for attacking, criticizing, and killing their leader, I believe the film-makers were attempting to criticize something different entirely. America has become completely desensitized to our news outlets. Networks like Fox News and MSNBC pass “opinion” pieces off as newsworthy material. Channels, like TMZ, rely solely on pop culture for their daily news stories. It is honestly sad and disgusting. Where has journalism gone? It still exists, but can we really believe it is prevalent in mainstream America? If you listen to The Interview’s message, the answer is a resounding no.
The Interview calls out all news networks, especially those like TMZ, that pass fluff off as news. The media needs to live up to its potential, and seek stories that legitimize the reason they got into the business. Why should we live in a world where the viewing public would rather hear about a famous celebrity committing bestiality with a goat, than see an interview with the most prominent dictator on earth? Why should we want to see anything about a man committing bestiality period? I just do not know, and honestly I really do not want to know. I have gotten to the point where I read almost all my news, because the line between reality and opinion continues to distort and blur.
There are standards in the news world. The public should not stand for manufactured news, fluff pieces, and opinionated discord. The difference between Rogen and Franco in The Interview comes down to this. Rogen refuses to be blindsided by the manufactured reality around him, but Franco does. So ask yourself… would you rather be Aaron Rapaport or Dave Skylark?
At the top of this review I’ve placed a few lesser-recognized quotes from the film that directly jab at the media and the power it holds. It controls us, guides us, and destroys us. However, it can save us as well, educate us for the better. The coming years will determine what the world’s news will represent. So will we allow our words to be more destructive than a nuclear weapon, or will we neutralize them?
I have to admit, I’m not hopeful.