“The Interview” revels in mediocrity

Not in recent memory has a film like “The Interview” been preceded with such press coverage. International intrigue, industrial espionage and heightened tensions were the hallmark. Even the threat of a 9/11 style attack on theaters, that has got to be a first for a movie. In what some people call a genius marketing move, Sony pulled the film from theaters, only to release it online and select theaters. Conspiracy theories and media hype aside, the film manages to be simultaneously absurd, funny, lackluster and mediocre.

“The Interview” is the latest film featuring on screen duo Seth Rogen and James Franco, most notable for “Pineapple Express.” This time, instead of playing a couple of happy-go-lucky stoners, “The Interview” follows the story of an entertainment show host (Franco) and his off-camera producer (Rogen) who land the interview of a lifetime, interviewing the Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.

Full of crass jokes and bodily humor, the film unfolds in a rather predictable fashion, with Franco playing his tried and true “dumber than a box of rocks” character next to Rogen’s nervous, quizzical straight man. A handful of absurd cameos add a little variety to a film, a little extra garnish to make things that much better.

While being gratifyingly immature, the movie still manages to touch on the very serious issue of life in North Korea. Famine, poverty, concentration camps and Kim’s cult of personality are all criticized and not glossed over. With nuggets of satire mixed into the comedy, there still is an overt message that life in North Korea is life in a harsh, totalitarian regime. Not content with just bashing one country, problems in the U.S. are also brought up. With the largest prison population in the world, as the film reminds the audience, the U.S. isn’t exactly a prime example of a free country, either.

There’s no surprise that the North Korean leadership took a dim view of this film. Through and through a mockery of Kim Jong-un, “The Interview” could definitely be seen as a threat to Kim’s cult of personality. Even Kim’s bathroom habits are mentioned – more than once.

While roundly mocking Kim Jong-un, his cult of personality, and the situation in North Korea, the movie does not at all mock or belittle Koreans in general, something that would have been an easy way to get out a couple more laughs.

While the movie may not be a masterpiece of cinema, more suited to getting intoxicated laughs out of dorm rooms, it definitely brings attention to one of the worst regimes in the world.

What impact this movie may have, political or cultural is left to be seen, it certainly doesn’t fail to be an entertaining couple of hours.