“You know what’s more destructive than a nuclear bomb?… Words.”
Over the last couple of weeks, the world has been constantly talking about one film this holiday season. In case you have been under a rock lately, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s new film ‘The Interview’ has been the subject of a major controversy involving a huge hack releasing Sony’s data, five films and private information about employees at the studio. These hackers wanted Sony to not release Rogen’s film and even made threats of terrorism causing theaters to pull the film from being screened. A week later, after a lot of backlash from audiences, critics and even President Obama criticizing how pulling the film is against our right to freedom of speech, Sony boldly released ‘The Interview’ online and in select theaters. Having seen the film late last night online, the question goes through my head, was it all worth all of this controversy and terror? No, it really was not. That said though, surprisingly, ‘The Interview’ does not deserve the current flack it is getting from critics, with the film now sitting at a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes. Underneath the profane, tasteless and raunchy humor hides a charming, thoughtful satire that beautifully discusses not just the 1984-esque state North Korea has become, but also the power of words and how someone who speaks up can change everything.
The highlight of ‘The Interview’ is obviously the raunchy humor, but behind that is a thoughtful satire discussing many different things. The film starts off heavily parodying the entertainment news industry, using character Dave Skylark (James Franco) as the center of said parody. What makes this character work so well and be so funny is that he is such an ignorant character who only wants to get the worst out of people for the best of ratings. We saw this similar theme in this year’s ‘Nightcrawler’ except looked at in a more suitably grim light. ‘The Interview’ looks at this in a more humorous way as well as criticizes modern media for it’s blatant exploitation. This is especially best shown in the opening scene of the movie where Skylark is interviewing Eminem and he comes out as gay. The next thing we see is Rogen’s character, Aaron Rapaport, making sure they get the confirmation on tape and exploit it for the ratings they want. He even says, “Eminem’s gay in our show!” knowing that this will get them ratings. While this is a ridiculous yet hilarious scene, it also feels sad and shameful that modern media has come to this.
Rogen and company also discuss and parody the devastating North Korea and look at what it has become. While some moments can be a little tasteless, we get an interestingly funny parody of the country and especially its leader, Kim Jong Un. The best moment discussing the tragic state of North Korea is the scene where Skylark finds out that the grocery stores in North Korea are fake and Kim Jong Un is not able to feed his people. This is a very smart way to make fun of as well as show the devastation in the country. Un is portrayed the way Chaplin portrayed Hitler, very over the top and hilarious. In this film, Kim Jong Un, played brilliantly by Randall Park, is an exaggerated version of the dictator who loves Katy Perry’s song ‘Firework’ and is about as insecure as they get with a ton of daddy issues. We also get to see a parody of the bond between Un and basketball player, Dennis Rodman, who also created a bond together while Rodman was in North Korea, with Skylark and Un. This is a fantastic parody for the main reason that it is so demeaning to the real Un and makes him look more stupid and weak as opposed to the god he claims to be. This portrayal of Un is also so fascinating because it can lead to people in North Korea to ask questions about their current leader.
What makes ‘The Interview’ so thoughtful is not the satire of our media and North Korea’s leader, the big thoughts are pulled from the film’s underlying ideas about the impact of words. Throughout the film, Rogen and Goldberg discuss the ideas about how words can change the world and ways of thinking, especially in places such as North Korea. The film says to us that if one person stood up, a revolution could start and everything could be so different. This is best shown during the actual interview itself with Skylark and Kim Jong Un. Skylark speaks up about the tragedies in North Korea and even questions Un as a person, leading the leader to crack and break into tears. Because of this, the leader has now lost all power and his country is now fighting for change in the film. This brilliantly supports the views of Rogen and the ideas he presents with this film. Un even says himself in the film, “You know what’s more destructive than a nuclear bomb?… Words.” This line is so powerful because it shows that even he is weakened by the power of speaking up. This overall theme makes the film feel less like a tasteless film about killing a world leader currently in power and more about a dream for a free North Korea. This is also very interesting because now, people will be more interested in North Korea and be more willing to speak up in such places as the media. Even if this film gets into North Korea and is seen by its people, it could cause people to question or even speak up, making the theme of word power in the film come to life.
On its surface, ‘The Interview’ by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg is a juvenile comedy. Underneath lies a fascinating and often brilliant satire. The film discusses the modern media and exploitation seen by it using our two main characters, especially Dave Skylark, played by James Franco. It also discusses the current state of North Korea with interesting satire such as the fake grocery stores and the brilliant portrayal of Kim Jong Un by Randall Park. With all of that aside, the highlight of the film is the thought provoking themes discussing the power of words. The film discusses the ideas about how words can change the world and ways of thinking, especially in places such as North Korea. While it may be crass, ‘The Interview’ has a lot to offer underneath the surface as an intelligent satire and one of the best of the twenty first century.