Monday, December 29, 2014
The Interview - Dir. Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen (2014)
It has been something of a tradition between my brothers and I to see a movie on Christmas night. Then again we have only done it twice: Rocky Balboa in 2006 (I swore that was 2007 or 2008...) and Django Unchained in 2012. Technically, we saw Django on December 27th, too. So maybe it's not all that solemn a tradition, but last night we decided to stream The Interview online for $6.00 instead of driving out to Littleton, CO from Boulder. At a certain point, maybe 30 or 45 minutes before the end, I thought it would make for a brilliant review to write, because it would get a ton of hits. But I don't feel that special anymore, seeing how it made $1 million in theaters yesterday.
I thought the online revenue was where this movie might be a game changer (a la Radiohead) if the controversial "cancellation" had been an ingenious publicity stunt. While I don't see how it could be more profitable than a traditional wide theatrical release, I do believe the controversy created a larger audience for this movie than otherwise. This is a review, though, not a special comment, so I will desist from further speculation and any post-structuralist interpretations.
The Interview is a spiritual sequel to Pineapple Express, but notably is almost completely devoid of pot references. It is about as good as Pineapple Express, too; I really liked it and think most people will too if their expectations aren't unrealistic.
I watched this movie with my younger brother, his friend, and two older brothers. My younger brother orchestrated the viewing. When I first met my older brother on the 23rd in Boulder, I asked, "What movie do you want to see?" He said, "The Interview," as a joke, I think. We had settled on an IMAX version of Interstellar instead. When the time came on Christmas though, it had been decided to try to stream the film. The friend came over, and we got baked in the garage, after some major difficulties with my 7 year old nephew, who had decided to antagonize us and repeatedly slide down the basement stairs on the new boogie board shaped sled he had gotten that morning. After about 20-30 minutes of trying to convince him to leave, because we were going to file into the garage for naughty (but legal!) activities and then watch a naughty movie, I carried him in a firm grip upstairs to my sisters and parents, who were watching a DVRed The Sound of Music sing along version. I said, "Contain him." He ran back down, and we held the door shut for about five minutes,then turned out the lights, and went to the garage.
This may seem superfluous, but I believe the truly special thing about The Interview is the circumstances which surround its viewing. If it soon gets a regular wide release, it will also reduce the magic that is associated with "getting to see" this movie. Also I think I liked it way more because of getting baked.
My brother's friend said that he liked it, but some of it was just too much. Plot elements were absurd, and there were way too many gay jokes. I repeated what I had said earlier after a similar comment from him: it's all part of their shtick.
There are a lot of gay jokes in this movie and I will attempt to remember as many as I can, four days after viewing [note: use of asterisks to denote separate writing times will now only be used when time is directly referenced, as it should be for this review]: (1) Eminem leaving a "breadcrumb trail of gayness"; (2) repeated references to Seth Rogen being the Frodo/Sam to James Franco's Sam/Frodo and the "come here, my precious" speech; (3) Franco masturbating imaginary cocks in his face while explaining that anonymously killing Kim Jong Un with ricin would deprive viewers of the "money shot"; (4) Franco sucking imaginary cocks while Rogen tries to draw his attention towards a dying guard; (5) Rogen shoving a large drone up his asshole, Franco inspiring him with "I've been there before, it looks big but you can take it"; (6) Franco telling Kim Jong Un, "If liking margaritas and Katy Perry is gay, who wants to be straight?"; (7) Franco making out with Kim Jong Un; (8) CIA agent telling Rogen and Franco that he will give them a blow job if they complete the mission (I might be screwing up some detail on that one, and I'll stop there because honestly I can't remember anymore).
I don't think this is offensive, though, because it's not homophobic humor.
Other people criticize this movie on the grounds that it downplays the significance of human rights abuses in North Korea, but I don't think that's true either. It is only focused on one issue (hunger), but it does effectively portray how totalitarian leaders can formulate propaganda.
It's not a great film, but it doesn't feel overlong at 112 minutes, and the chemistry between Rogen and Franco continues to develop and improve with each successive effort. In short, the scenes between them make this movie worth watching--but then again, if you aren't already a fan, it may seem like a big fuss for nothing. The plot is, ironically, secondary to their scenes discussing the absurdity of the plot--and I feel that the last 20 minutes of the movie could have been much more interesting if the players had taken a less conventional route.
But I wholeheartedly recommend it, and suggest holding a viewing party with a handful of friends that liked Pineapple Express. My only fear is that, as time goes on, it will not be as special an event.