Why The Interview Is a Deeper Film Than You Might Imagine

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Randall Park as Kim Jong-un blubbers his way through The Interview as his daddy’s image hovers

The chairman of the Congressional Entertainment Industries Caucus, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), suggested using satellite television under the control of the Broadcasting Board of Governors to beam a dubbed version of The Interview into North Korea.

On principle, I wholeheartedly agreed. After seeing the film, I now also agree in terms of content. North Koreans would get to see the on-screen version of North Koreans discovering what a blubbering idiot their supreme leader is, and how revolution ultimately comes from within.

It seems some outlets are eager to paint The Interview as nothing more than mindless lowbrow humor — Vox, for example, thinks a dictator explaining that he actually does pee and poo like a mere mortal is the worst thing that could happen to the silver screen — while sort of willfully ignoring the film’s core.

And that is simple: The North Korean regime is cruel and has no place in the modern world, and though James Franco’s character flirts with the idea that this is something the U.S. can comfortably ignore, it’s not.

After watching The Interview twice online, I’ll venture to say the comedy goes even deeper into “messaging” territory about the danger of the regime than the legendary “ronery” Kim Jong-il send-up in Team America: World Police.

Is it Oscar material? Of course not, but it’s well-paced and even funnier if you’re up on current events.

A few observations without spoilers:

  • John Kerry referenced as “that oak tree-looking f**k” — need I say more?
  • Eminem and Rob Lowe have very funny cameos
  • Randall Park as Kim Jong-un is at times more refined than we can ever imagine the young dictator, yet most of the time he’s as silly and off his rocker as we expect him to be. He was all bravado and bluster in one moment, and blubbering the next.
  • Concise foreign policy quote that sums up Kim well: “He says that he’s going to blow up the world just to prove that he’s the s**t”

The Interview may be full of fraternity humor, but that’s not exactly inappropriate considering North Korea is run by a 31-year-old who treats nuclear tests like a night at the beer bong. Yes, I can believe that Kim would say “nuke your mama” to a basketball opponent, insist on umbrellas in his margaritas, and display that well-documented impetuous temperament at will.

Under the veneer of poop jokes and Kim’s apparent fondness for Katy Perry, the core of the film is unambiguous: Kim Jong-un is bats**t crazy (“The fact that I’m running a country is bats**t crazy,” he tells Franco’s talk-show host character) and puts on an inhumane facade to assert that North Korea is a communist utopia of plenty. Not only are there frequent mentions of Kim’s concentration camps, firing squads and starvation, but these uncomfortable truths ultimately drive the characters’ actions. Not only does Kim have his finger on the button and isn’t afraid to use it, but the film depicts Pyongyang at a point of long-range nuclear capability (and we received a warning of as much from Pentagon insiders this year) well past the point of a UN Security Council resolution.

One can imagine that at least some of the panning of the The Interview as a useless, poor movie is a reaction to the massive volume of political incorrectness within — The Guardian, for example, rated The Interview as “20% sexism … 10% ‘funny’ accents”; The Verge referred to the film as a “dumb, racist, homophobic, misogynistic comedy that also happens to depict the fiery death of a sitting political leader.”

It’s not a film for the easily offended. Yet as Franco’s character states, “When you score a Bin Laden or a Hitler or an Un, you take ’em by the balls!”