A Hands-free Review of the Interview

The interview is funny in a Seth Rogen-James Franco inside-jokes you don’t get unless you have seen all their other bro-pack movies way.

Note:  Due to hand surgery on Friday, my left hand is wrapped up in something that looks like a mitten and my arm is in a splint.  So I’m trying to write this item with dictation using the software Dragon Dictate. I’ve never been good with dictation but think that it will be better than one-handed typing so this is a Sunday afternoon practice run. Welcome to the first ever hands-free Rexblog post.

Not believing that it could be a movie worth investing a couple of hours of my life, I decided to wait until The Interview made it to Netflix before watching it. (It appeared there yesterday.)

Here’s my opinion: It’s funny in a Seth Rogen-James Franco inside-jokes you don’t get unless you have seen all their other bro-pack movies way. I’m aware enough of the references to get about  1/3rd of the jokes and to at least understand why 20-something- years-old guys might find the movie hilarious.

Like the only other movie I’ve reviewed that mocks a North Korean demigod leader ( South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s 2004 film Team America), it’s a far more nuanced film then I was expecting. That’s because when a movie is a comedy about killing a North Korean dictator, I expect no nuance at all.

Both films are satires of  their eras’ pop culture and media — more than they are a satire of North Korean leaders. (And neither come close to the  classic films of this genre, say, Charlie Chaplin’s the Great Dictator. Call me lucky, but somehow I was able to miss completely the 2012 film from Sasha Baron Cohen, the Dictator.)

Of the two films, Team America is far more risk-taking and bold  than the Interview because of its biting lampoon of Hollywood. Such equal opportunity ridicule gave Team America more latitude in satirizing political issues, most graphically, the USA’s recurring policy of trying to fix things things by destroying them first.

Team America used brilliant marionette puppetry as  both a dramatic device and creative metaphor that, as I said in my review of the film 10 years ago, required exacting control totally opposite to the thrown-together animation its creators use in South Park. The Interview also uses puppetry, but a lot less creatively as the puppeteer in this film is the clichéd show runner —  in this film,  of this role is played by Josh Rogen who feeds Franco’s ear the information that makes an engaging yet empty headed on-air anchor seem so much brighter.

Which brings me to another film referenced  heavily in the Interview, the none-too-subtle references to the film Broadcast News. Indeed, there are times in the The Interview that seem like a shout-out homage to the` Holly Hunter-William Hurt film.

The controversy surrounding the release of the film, and the unrelated tragedy (except for its timing) of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, make it impossible to watch the film without consideration of such context. I don’t know enough about the difference in styles of satire of various cultures to know how things play in different lands, but I know enough to think that if I were a demigod dictator of North Korea, I would not understand the point of this movie. Indeed I imagine it would be like one of those times when you hear where that a Chinese news service has picked up a satirical story appearing in the Onion, but is running it as a legitimate news story.

The Interview fails to be much more than just  another bro-comedy because in the end,  everything is all wrapped up in very Hollywood fashion. And you get the feeling that the next movie made by Seth Rogen and James Franco will be just a little bit more of the same.

Bottom line: The Interview is worth watching if you have Netflix.  But don’t blame me if you don’t like it. I only watched it so I could dictate this post.