If you haven’t already seen the Interview, go see it in the theater if possible OR stream it on youtube.
I’d never seen James Franco or Seth Rogen together on screen before and let me tell you, they are hilarious. Rogen’s portrayal of no-nonsense, i-dotting, t-crossing, worrywart tv producer Aaron Rapoport is the perfect straight man to Franco’s embodiment of the off the wall, spectacularly horny, nosey, patriotic (not necessarily in that order) tv star Dave Skylark. And there are real twinges of sadness in the movie that both actors never reduce to maudlin plot development requirements. These are two really really talented people. Who made a very very raunchy, crass, sexed-up, piece of political satire.
My favorite kind!
As a brief recap, in case you missed the news, Sony got hacked (
probably by North Korea, says the FBI) and this group of hackers also threatened “9/11 style” attacks on any theaters who chose to show “the Interview” (a Sony Picture) because the premise is a CIA plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un and at one point in the movie, his death via firey head explosion is depicted. North Korea called the movie itself “an act of war.” So all these movie theaters across the country were afraid of these so called 9/11 style attacks. Now if you have a brain in your head, you’re probably shaking it, going, what were they going to drop on us? water balloons? Using logic: let’s say NK does have [working] nukes. Do they want to have a nuclear war? No, because Kim Jong Un wants to live, not die. He wants to stay the dictator of a fascist regime. So is he going to attack the US with nuclear weapons? No. Because then he’d die. Or worse, for people with fascist personality disorder, he’d be alive but no longer have a regime to rule over totalitarianistically. Yes, that is totally a word. Now.
The best part of this movie is that it is the truest kind of political satire – no one walks away unsatirized. “The Interview” pokes fun at the CIA, the United States, our popular culture AND North Korea’s supreme leader.
So all these movie theaters pull out at the last minute, crying, oh no! the sky is falling! we don’t want our patrons to be attacked while watching this movie! (read: we don’t want to get sued because all we think about is money) and decide not to show it. So many theaters that Sony decides not to release the movie at all, period! And President Obama is going, “Really, Sony? You couldn’t have talked to me first before you cancel the release of this movie everyone has been anticipating for months? Cuz I could have told you that there is no credible threat to our national security, you idiots.” Except I think he said it in that uberdiplomatic Obama way. So then Sony is like, okay, okay, if theaters want to show it, they can AND we’ll also stream it online. And then a few days after that, the NSA hacked in to North Korea’s internet and kept them in the dark for 9 hours. Er … somebody did. Whether or not it was the NSA, we don’t know. And by we don’t know, I mean, we “don’t know.“ They should have kept North Korea off grid for nine days.
And why? Because freedom of speech. The 1st Amendment. The Bill of Rights. That’s the deal with freedom. I might disagree with you and you might disagree with me. We both get to talk. We both get to write. We both get to make movies and we both get to watch them – or not watch them. We get the choice. To paraphrase Voltaire: I may detest what you say, but your right to say it is worth dying for. (So go thank a vet!)
One of the funniest and most understated bits in the movie (yes, I’m getting to the actual storyline – but really, what a bunch of deballed cowards at Sony; as Seth Rogen put it, since when do we let North Korea decide which movies play in the US?) is when the two CIA officers first visit Dave and Aaron to pitch the idea of killing Kim to them and there are dirty wine and shot glasses everywhere and cocaine all over the dining table. Now Aaron quickly explains to Agent Lacey that it’s not their cocaine, but Dave – hospitable, warm, welcoming Dave Skylark – offers her some! Because that’s the polite thing to do when the CIA comes over: offer up your best coke, ladies and gentlemen. The viewer and Aaron quickly catch on to the fact that Dave is being honeypotted because, as Aaron points out, Agent Lacey has all three of the things he loves, “bangs, huge tits, and glasses.” And the combination works; Dave agrees to participate in the assassination plot. Later when they go to CIA headquarters to do a dry run of the poisonous handshake assassination technique, Agent Lacey isn’t wearing the glasses. Obviously lying, she says she got Lasik.
Dave: “I know what you did to me – with the glasses – honeycombed me.”
Agent Lacey: “What does that even mean.”
Aaron: “You honey potted him – [to Dave] it’s honey pot – you honey potted him.”
Agent Lacey: “No, I didn’t.”
Aaron: “You did honey pot him. I bet you got him [referring to her partner agent] in here as a honey dick just in case I’m gay but I’m not but if I was I would have seen him coming a mile away.”
Dave: “You honey dick him?”
Male CIA: “She’s not honeypotting you and I’m not honeydicking him.”
Agent Lacey: “It’s very offensive because basically if you think about it, what you’re saying to me, you’re saying because I’m a girl, and because I’m attractive, my only use for this agency would be to manipulate men.”
Dave: “I think it’s offensive too!”
Nice. Nice commentary on the CIA, on the federal government’s exploitation of fertility and virility traits, such as beauty, strength, prowess, cunning, etc, for a greater good (men are just as exploited for their masculinity as women are for their femininity over at Fed Gov) and yet another moment in the movie where we see that Dave is really this teenage boy in a man’s body who just loves women and is a chivalrous sweetheart deep down and Aaron is his best friend and the best kind of friend: a loyal, protective defender. I won’t spoil this next part but you’ve got to see in this same scene what Dave refers to as “the money shot.” In comedy, timing is everything. The four actors in this scene nail it. Perfect timing. Perfect facial expressions. Perfect moments of silence, perfect rapport. This movie is so funny that I literally laughed for almost the whole two hours.
Another vivid character in the movie is Sook, the self-described “propagandist for a totalitarian dictatorship.” She tells Aaron, amidst a burgeoning romance between them, how when she was a young girl, she was pulled out of her classroom at school and “selected” to serve the Jong family as a member of Kim’s staff. She doesn’t say how young she was and neither she nor Aaron clarify what kind of service specifically her role entailed at the beginning of her tenure, but we know. And the movie doesn’t shy away from pointing out the 2 x 4 in our own government’s eye when it comes to the foibles of a hyper-interventionist foreign policy in this scene either. Sook and Aaron are practically naked in Aaron’s bed when Dave bursts in; Sook hides under the covers. After getting a glimpse of Kim’s true nature, Dave is finally ready to go through with the handshake plan.
Dave: “I wanna know if you still have that poison so we can kill that mothafucka!”
Sook (erupting from underneath a hill of covers): “What?!?”
Aaron (leaping in front of Dave who’s about to karate chop Sook): “She’s on our side!”
Sook: “I hate Kim – he is a terrible leader.”
Aaron: “See? She can help us kill him!”
Sook: “What? No! No killing! How many times can the US make the same mistake?”
Dave: “As many times as it takes!”
*This is so so funny and sad at the same time. And it’s one of the reasons I enjoyed this movie so much. In previous blog posts and youtube videos, I’ve talked about the “dark gray area” that intervention often leads us into as a nation. This movie isn’t afraid to go there either.
Sook continues to explain, using logic: “Killing Kim won’t change anything! He will be replaced. He has brothers, he has other generals. The people need to be shown that he is not a god, that he is a man. Then they will be ready for change.”
Dave: “Yeah. How?”
Sook: “Interviewing him: everyone in North Korea will be watching.”
Dave: “The interview’s scripted – his people are never gonna let me ask real questions.”
Sook: “Dave, I am his people.”
Aaron: “You get Kim to cry like a baby – they’ll know he’s not a god.”
During the actual interview, Dave succeeds, using charm and a disarming combination of warmth and confidence, in drawing out the true Kim, and all of North Korea gets to see that he is not in fact a god. Once again, the filmmakers also allowed an unflattering tidbit about the US to be revealed when Kim remarks to Dave that the US has more incarcerated people per capita than North Korea. True enough. A battle in the studio’s control room ensues as Sook and Aaron fight off Kim’s minions to keep the show broadcasting live to the people, and a revolution is sparked with the incendiary flame of information.
Without spoiling too much of the ending, let me say that my favorite part is during the follow-up montage, where we see North Korea having democratic elections. That alone would be cause for the real Kim Jong Un to declare the movie an act of war. But the biggest threat to his or any fascist regime is the movie’s message that an assassination of character can be far more effective than an actual assassination.
Go out and see it, stream it – do both if possible. Watching it is an act of patriotism in this situation because any attempt by one state to censor or inhibit the free flow of information among members of another state is totally unacceptable, morally reprehensible, and calls for resistance and defiance.
“The Interview” is hilarious and awesome. Thank you, James and Seth! You made a great movie.