Why “The Interview” is exactly what the world does not need

Yasmim, Editor

On January 26 SNO published the article “Why ‘The Interview’ is exactly what the world needs.” The title is self-explanatory, but the article basically portrays the newest James Franco and Seth Rogen movie as the epitome of Western freedom.

I’ll admit, I’m a James Franco fan. I’m a Seth Rogen fan. I could even go as far as to say I liked “This Is The End,” but their most recent movie “The Interview” is probably the worst accidental mockumentary of the 21st century.

“The Interview” is probably the worst accidental mockumentary of the 21st century. ”

If you have been living under a rock, the movie depicts two journalists who manage to set up an interview with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. As they prepare for the trip, the CIA assigns the two journalists with the dangerous mission to assassinate Kim Jong-Un.

James Franco plays the dense TV show host, Dave Skylark and Seth Rogen plays Ken Miller. Or Aaron Rapoport. Or Seth Rogen. It doesn’t matter. Seth Rogen has decided he can only play one character regardless of the movie.

“The Interview” received harsh retaliation from North Korea who allegedly delayed the release of the movie by hacking Sony computers. As the news of alleged North Korean cyber-terrorism spread in the media, “The Interview” got more attention. A movie that irritates a dictator to the extent he calls for revenge on the U.S. must be a good movie.

Teaser poster with original release date. The Korean text reads "The war will begin", "Do not trust these ignorant Americans!" and "Awful work by the 'pigs' that created Neighbors and This Is the End"
Columbia Pictures
The Korean text reads “The war will begin”, “Do not trust these ignorant Americans!” and “Awful work by the ‘pigs’ that created “Neighbors” and “This Is the End”

At its core, the movie is simply not funny. James Franco tries too hard and Seth Rogen tries too little, thus creating two characters who are neither likeable nor hateable. Because of the shallow characterization of Dave Skylark and (reportedly) Aaron Rapoport, the movie relies on overused humor like sexual innuendos, slightly racist remarks, and even fart jokes. Recycled humor can be funny, unless it’s recycled from idiotic movies like “American Pie” or “Not Another Teen Movie.”

Besides the shallow characters and the boyish middle-school humor, the movie itself failed to shed light on an extremely serious topic. “The Interview” tries to present the situation of North Korea in a light-hearted mood. It portrays the dictator Kim Jong-Un as a spoiled-brat whose daddy never appreciated him. While ridiculing the dictator could work as plain humor, “The Interview” goes further and unsuccessfully attempts to semi-address the problems within North Korea. This fumbling juxtaposition of “funny vs. serious” could work as stress relief from the delicate subject, as it has in “Life is Beautiful,” the story of a Jewish-Italian waiter who wins the heart of a school teacher with charm and humor. They eventually marry and have a son, but their happiness is halted when the family is separated and the father and son are taken to a concentration camp. Or the movie could have tried to be solely slapstick humor, like “The Dictator,” which depicts the clumsy visit of the despotic dictator Aladeen (Sasha Baron Cohen) to the United States. However, “The Interview” ends up being neither amusing nor touching.

While it’s true “Life is Beautiful” got controversial reviews upon its release, the movie started a conversation worth discussing. “Life is Beautiful” portrays concentration camps with caution and majestically avoids undermining the topic. Not to mention that the movie was released in 1997, almost 60 years after the last concentration camp was shut down. On the other hand, the movie’s irreverent humor was perceived as offensive, yet the criticism served to raise the question of whether or not it was too early to write a love story in that setting.

“The Interview” however, proposes no questions about the situation in North Korea.

Likewise, “The Dictator” was harshly criticized in the media for camouflaging racism with humor. However, critics overall agree that “The Dictator” is pure sensationalized satire that targets both authoritarianism and Western ignorance. Which seems to appeal to some and irritate others, but overall the movie achieved its humoristic goal. On the other hand, even overlooking the inherent flaws of “The Interview,” the movie remains unfunny.

If James Franco and Seth Rogen were trying to show the Western world how lucky we are for having freedom of speech, they failed miserably to do so. Instead, they made me question whether my democratic rights exist in order to justify James Franco’s and Seth Rogen’s imbecile movie.

No, the problem with North Korea isn’t the fake supermarkets for foreigners. The problem with North Korea is the ongoing food shortage that caused the deaths of at least 20,000 North Koreans in 2013. The problem with North Korea is that its leader has been refusing food supplements from foreign countries on the premise that everything is fine. The problem with North Korea is the almost sacred fanaticism over North Korean leaders. The problem with North Korea is the potential growing arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Maybe it’s good that “The Interview” is seen as representation of Western democracy. Ultimately, the movie accurately portrays the mindless exercise of freedom of speech. Overall, “The Interview” is both a waste of time and a waste of money. Everything has a place and “The Interview’s” is in the bin.