Censorship just isn't my bag. So when theaters started to ban "The Interview," and Sony subsequently killed the release of the movie, it took me about ten minutes to sneak out a way to watch it. I would have watched if it was awful; I've read books that stink just because someone is trying to get them banned.
First, though, the movie is good. Genuinely funny, with some James Bond-type action and romantic moments thrown in. It's what we always wanted to see of stoner buds Seth Rogan and James Franco, who have been hetero life mates since their youth in the TV series "Freaks and Geeks." To grow up into something of a modern-day Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, making smarter satire in their goofy, foul-mouthed, fart-joke way.
Second, yes, it really is capable of starting World War III. Never has a movie so thoroughly mocked a world leader since Charlie Chaplin reportedly made Hitler cry, and perhaps turned world sentiment, with his shocking 1940 film, "The Little Dictator."
In "The Interview," Franco plays an egocentric TV talk show host with just one talent, conducting emotional interviews with celebrities (he gets Eminem to admit to being gay in the first five minutes of the movie.). Rogan is his ever-stumbling producer who longs to do more substantial things. When they hear that North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un is a fanboy of their lightweight talk show, they surprisingly land an interview with him.
The North Korean regime sets out to twist the interview into untrue propaganda, the CIA tries to draw the boys into an assassination plot, and as they say, "hilarity ensues."
Unless of course you are North Korean.
Not only does "The Interview" have our rather airheaded heroes outwitting the Dear Successor, they paint him as laughable.
In their script, Kim is an iron-fisted dictator in public, but behind the scenes is a goof obsessed with margaritas, NBA basketball and pop music, weepily saddled with daddy issues and hero worship for the American talk show host. It goes so far as to have Kim loudly poop his pants during his interview.
Now it would be one thing to assassinate a communist leader in a movie - I doubt if North Korea would have said a word. But to be made a laughing stock in front of the world, well, that is the kind of thing that causes cracks in an image that could eventually bring down a regime. Consider Saddam Hussain. It wasn't a battle that brought him to his disgraceful end, it was a picture of him in newspapers in his saggy underpants.
At any rate, it is quite understandable why Kim Jong Un is ticked off. In the dog-eat-dog world of communist leadership, one can afford to starve and terrorize his own people and threaten the world with nuclear winter, but one can't afford to play the fool and be laughed at.
Satire is a more powerful weapon than a bomb, it seems, though for the record, it you are considering options, I'd prefer being hit with the satire.
Now, had the movie come out as scheduled with no opposition, it would have come and gone in a couple of weeks.
Hey! remember "Pineapple Express," This is the End," "Neighbors," "Funny People," "Guilt Trip" and "Your Highness?"
Neither does anyone else. Comedies of the Rogan/Franco stripe tend to come and go quickly.
The prospect of watching Seth Rogan in a film about North Korea politics? It would have bombed.
It certainly wouldn't have swayed world opinion. The dudes from Pineapple Express are not exactly seen as sociopolitical movers and shakers.
So, massive hack aside, Rogan, Franco and company should sent a fat check to Kim Jong Un for throwing a high-publicity fit, and a thank-you note to Sony for killing the release of their movie.
All this has made it the most famous film to never be released, and has people wetting themselves to get their hands on "The Interview" online. You couldn't buy this kind of press.
Still, I think, Sony should be ashamed of itself. Art should not cowtoe to government - ours or anyone else's. Cinema and all forms of expression should test the boundaries at times, and use their reach to expose and if necessary ridicule what is happening in the world. People should make it a point to see "the Interview" - if only because someone is trying to stop them.