Seth Rogen and James Franco are, like most in the US, ingrained by our culture to the point that freedom of speech and freedom of expression are second nature, coming naturally without limits, and without a second thought. So much so that their film The Interview has become what I call an “accidental satire”, with Rogen and Franco completely unaware they may have “gone too far” by the standards of certain countries. Did they consider that when they shot scenes of North Korean soldiers being run over and gruesomely flattened by their own tanks, that it would be considered an act of provocation towards Kim Jong-un’s steel grip? This film ends up naively demonstrating freedoms the US and other free nations have when one portrays another’s leader – a dangerous, unhinged one at that – shitting his pants and being assassinated by its conclusion. What may seem silly and immature to us – and not to be taken seriously – is however a powerful form of expression that is in other parts of the world considered dangerous. As David Edelstein said in his New York Magazine pseudo-interview/review, “…it is a truly savage work. It means not just to expose Kim Jong-un as a fraud but to emasculate him, which is about the most punk thing you can do to a repressive, totalitarian, murderous, self-proclaimed god of a closed but increasingly porous state.“
Perhaps I am a bit “biased” as I enjoy this style of humor – self-aware, immature, stoner comedy – and although jokes fall flat in this more frequently than I’m used to with movies Rogen and Franco are involved with, there were enough funny, surreal moments to keep me highly amused for the majority of its running time. Is it the best work of writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg? Not directly – it’s certainly not Superbad or This Is The End. Is the humor everyone’s cup of tea? Maybe not. PROBABLY not, actually. What’s important here is The Interview sparked a reminder of how important freedom of speech and expression is. No matter what one finds humorous, those reminders are necessary, and standing up for all forms of it, is vital. Even when that means protecting what others may find offensive, like broad television sitcoms that reduce themselves to laugh tracks instructing their audience either when to laugh, or to tell them that what just happened is funny. As is said, this is why restaurants have menus, there’s something there for everyone’s different tastes.
Now, did the filmmakers intend for this to be a satire or a provocation? I highly doubt either (especially as it’s hardly a satire), but there in lies its accidental “brilliance”. Without even trying – in all its immature glory – The Interview has become a statement. Would it be deemed as such without North Korea having thrown a tantrum over it? Maybe not. But it did, and isn’t that point of all this? The Interview, like ‘The Satanic Verses’ or The Last Temptation of Christ in decades past, has become a strange and unlikely celebration of the United States and other equally free nations, whether the studio or the filmmakers intended it to be or not, via two hours of internationally-charged ass and dick jokes.