The Movie Kim Jong-Un (Probably Didn’t) Try to Kill
Apparently, there are plans afoot to airdrop 100,000 copies of ‘The Interview’ on DVD and USB stick into North Korea in an effort to undermine Kim Jong-Un’s authority. They’d better hope it doesn’t backfire. By the time I had suffered through Rogen and Franco’s nearly 2 hours of sloppily executed toilet humor I felt like living in North Korea might not be that bad after all.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you will already be aware of the controversy surrounding the movie and, to be honest, Sony must be thanking their lucky stars that someone (whether it was North Korea or a disgruntled employee seems to be open to debate) took the movie seriously enough to stage their hacking plot. What would otherwise have been a largely ignored low-rate comedy became the center of global attention, a golden calf for defenders of free expression and an online box-office record breaker, with over 2 million downloads recorded in its first week.
With the FBI insisting that the cyberattack on Sony was the work of North Korea, the whole thing sounded like the plot of a movie which would probably have been a better one than The Interview turned out to be. Nevertheless, the story managed to capture the imaginations of the world and rustled up enough fervor amongst the ‘they hate us ‘cos they ain’t us’ brigade to ensure that getting hold of a copy of the movie was at the top of the Christmas shopping list for everyone who wanted to take a brave stand against evil dictators in far off lands. When Sony announced the movie would be made available online they were thus lauded as heroes of free speech, which conveniently distracted from their initial somewhat cowardly decision to pull the movie from theaters in the first place.
If, as evidence seems to increasingly point to being the case, the hacking does turn out to be the work of an ex-employee of Sony with a grudge, you do have to wonder how that will change the view of the movie and the surrounding controversy as well as the subsequent reaction of the US authorities. ‘The movie Kim Jong-un tried to kill’ makes a much better tagline than ‘The movie Sony had to withdraw because someone in IT forgot to change the passwords’.
In any case, what about the movie itself? Is it worth all the fuss? Sadly not. It starts off promisingly with a scene featuring a sweet young North Korean song singing a cheerful ditty about maiming and murdering Americans but quickly descends into a fairly puerile comedy which is never quite cutting enough to be satire and never quite sharp enough to be funny.
The plot itself revolves around Rogen and Franco, a producer and host of a tabloid TV talkshow, discovering that Kim Jong-un is a fan of their work. The pair then set out to interview Kim in the broadcasting coup of the century before the CIA get wind of their plan and recruit the two of them to ‘take Kim out’. Hilarity then ensues – if you consider jokes about hiding things in your butt and whether or not Kim ‘pees and poos’ as hilarious.
And that’s really the biggest problem with the movie – it’s just not really that funny. It feels lazy and shallow and, with a run-time of 112 minutes, the concept and jokes are stretched to breaking point. The majority of the characters are one-dimensional at best and the humour very rarely gets above the level of stupid. While some of the humour is probably in bad taste, it’s generally too juvenile to cause any real offence. Maybe if Rogen and Franco has engaged in some ‘self-censorship’ and edited out 30 minutes of the weaker material they might have managed to produce an 85-minute fun, no-brainer comedy.
As it is, you really have to wonder what all the fuss was about. I can’t imagine anyone in North Korea getting truly upset about the content – if anything, they should be screening it on national television to show just how far the corrupt Western imperialist pigs have dumbed-down their culture. For the rest of the world, if you are really itching to see a razor-sharp satire and laugh-out-loud-funny comedy in which a North Korean dictator is humiliated and gets his comeuppance then download Team America: World Police instead. Trey Parker and Matt Stone did ‘The Interview’ sharper, wittier and better 10 years ago.