There has never really been a time in my life when I watched a movie because I felt it was my duty as an American. Not even documentaries about the destruction of the planet, war on drugs or how SeaWorld treats its vaudeville acts, I engaged with these topics because I found them to be entertaining/compelling, “duty” to something other than myself seems silly and confusing.
But as my champagne laced stomach lay protruding over sweatpants (I have a yeast overgrowth in my stomach due to IBS, but that’s for another time) on New Year’s Day as I scrolled to the “rent” option on my cable provider, an odd sense of patriotism came over me when I purchased The Interview. No Kim Jong-un, you can’t stop me from watching shitty movies. Rotten Tomatoes has tried, movie critics have tried, but the stupid movies just keep winning.
Which leaves one to ponder, what if The Interview was actually good—an introspective satire on the fate of international relations? Perhaps I wouldn’t be sitting here and North Korea would have already nuked us? But let’s face it, if we were dealing with good satire the bombs would have moved beyond Kim’s mushroom shaped head. As this year’s Dear White People has proved, satire is a powerful way to provoke conversation. But the only conversation piece involving The Interview concerned emails over which movies Obama would like as Sony’s Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin retorted—DJANGO, The Butler and Kevin Hart movies—certainly a Harvard man’s picks.
Although Pascal’s behavior is not surprising to those who have worked with her, it’s responsible for one of the biggest hits of the season. Without the Sony Hacks The Interview may have been in the top five on it’s opening weekend, but it certainly would not have been conceived as a patriotic duty. The film is in fact a representation of America’s failure as a culturally aware nation. With jokes concerning Homosexuality, “he’s honey dicking me,” to anus retorts, it’s not that these jokes are distasteful, it’s that (like Rudin and Pascal’s emails) they just aren’t that funny. The Franco-Goldberg-Rogen train has run out of fart-fueled transmission and as Rotten Tomatoes can attest were done. Personally I always liked the Jay Baruchel touch, he gives the minstrel’s a show a smart, wry underbelly in a gut filled with bacteria.
I am still not sure how I feel about Franco as an actor let alone a comedic one. His Ryan Seacrest-esque, celebrity talk show host needed an air of subtlety, but came off as too forced. Although I enjoy watching Seth Rogen play Seth Rogen just as much as the next douchebag, I feel like as a nation we are kinda done with fat, sloppy, Jew. This is exactly what The Interview feels like, sloppy, another reason to get Rogen and Evan Goldberg (co-writer This is the End, Superbad) back together for monetary gain.
The Interview justifies other countries perception of us, at least the “dumb American” part. Politics and satire can be an extremely provocative subject matter as Full Metal Jacket and Dr. Strangelove has proven—“Gentleman. You can’t fight in here. This is the War Room”—but The Interview takes what could be sharp and biting digs, swallows it up, and binges out trash.
Goldberg and Rogen (who developed the concept together) had a good idea full of potential, but came off as the kind of movie that someone who appreciates Dennis Rodman would write. One could go a long way with the seemingly deranged dictator, but with the sharp pens of Mel Brooks and Woody Allen nowhere in sight (sorry Rogen and Goldberg you ain’t it) finding filmmakers who can ride the edge between ridiculous and provocative, is few and far between.