‘The Interview’: Brilliant both as comedy and as political satire

REVIEW It may be a credit to “The Interview” that it’s the most famous film in the world before its release. It’s famous because it’s about an egomaniacal dictator, the closest thing today to Adolph Hitler, who has been blamed by the FBI and President Obama for trying to do to the film what it portrays having been done to him. SEE ALSO: Sony will release ‘The Interview’ on Christmas day But the film lives, and perhaps it’s important to note that too often the public forgets that political assassinations, like those that have rocked America in the past half century, become national tragedies because of their unfortunate success. Perhaps it’s only when they fail that we see just how closely interrelated tragedy is to comedy. For this, we need only to look at the several outrageous CIA-sponsored attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro in the 1960s and 1970s. Tragedy mirrors comedy in failed attempts against dictators There were special poisons which CIA would-be assassins tried use in order to lace cigars intended for Castro. There was another attempt using a SCUBA diving suit contaminated with disease-causing fungus spores that was to be a gift from the U.S. to the Cuban dictator. There was even a rigged exploding seashell that would be placed on a seafloor where Castro often went skin diving. These are important to keep in mind when you watch – and you really must – the much-maligned Seth Rogen-James Franco action comedy “The Interview” that Sony Pictures is now going to try to relaunch in limited release on Christmas Day. The film, of course, was pulled by Sony when major theaters refused to show it because of threats of violence from the so-called Guardians of Peace group that has claimed responsibility for the cyber attack that has brought the studio to its corporate knees. It was a cyber attack reportedly brought on to protest “The Interview” and its cinematic assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, who suddenly seems to have extended his heavy hand of rule onto the pop culture of America. In the course of the running drama over the cyber attack against Sony, the principals behind the film – Rogen, Franco and the studio – have been criticized by some for risking the rights of filmmakers and free speech over what has been widely presumed to be a silly, nonsensical dumb comedy undeserving of such a lofty role in deciding a great issue facing the western world.   There seems to be some lament that the film at the center of the controversy isn’t something more like Oliver Stone’s “JFK” or Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” about the killing of Osama Bin Laden. The Interview is more than just a comedy On Tuesday, however, as Sony prepared to go it again in releasing “The Interview” — albeit on a smaller scale — I was fortunate to see a screening of the film and came away amazed and surprised at an incredibly hilarious film that I believe is much more important than it’s been made out to be. It’s not just because of the cyber attack, the threats and the studio’s decision to withdraw the motion picture under pressure. “The Interview,” despite some crude humor and poop jokes, is utterly brilliant both as comedy and as political satire, the kind the late Pulitzer Prize winning humorist Art Buchwald would have loved – and not completely unbelievable, if you’ve read the reports put together by the late Senator Frank Church’s Senate Select Committee on Intelligence of the CIA’s attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. Those assassination attempts were hardly high brow and the assassins neither John Wilkes Booth nor Lee Harvey Oswald types but more Keystone Cops, which brings to mind Rogen and Franco who in “The Interview” lampoon the real Kim Jong-un the way Charlie Chaplin tweaked Hitler in “The Great Dictator” in 1940. The brilliance of Rogen and Franco In “The Interview,” Rogen plays producer Aaron Rapoport of the popular celebrity TV talk show “Skylark Tonight” whose dimwitted host Dave Skylark, played by Franco, somehow manages to elicit astonishing admissions from stars like Rob Lowe and Eminem playing themselves in the film. Kim Jong-un, this film version of him, would love nothing more than to be on the show of which he’s die-hard fan and, in fact, a secret wannabe American who, if he could, would make Katy Perry the First Lady of North Korea. The real Kim Jong-un, of course, does keep an eye on American pop culture and counts former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman as a friend. So in the film — directed by Rogen and Evan Goldberg — it’s no surprise that Kim Jong-un agrees to be interviewed by “Skylark Tonight,” and plans to host the show in Pyongyan. That’s when the CIA steps in. And if the whole idea of the spy agency recruiting Rogen and Franco to kill Kim Jong-un sounds absurd, remember that the CIA was behind the ridiculous attempts to assassinate Castro, not to mention having botched its protection of JFK in Dallas. So why couldn’t Rogen and Franco be assassins? Or CIA-backed wannabe assassins? Of course, the CIA didn’t count on Dave Skylark’s friendship and bromance with Kim Jong-un, played by veteran American actor Randall Park, who portrays the dictator in a fitting and yet almost endearing egomaniacal parody. Forget about the hype, ok don’t forget about it Ultimately, “The Interview” may not be what one would expect given all the commotion and controversy. For that matter, the film may surprise many as being much better than some critics have made it out to be. “The Interview” manages to cleverly skewer the media, even before the onset of the current news circus surrounding the film, almost as much as it deals with Kim Jong-un. SEE ALSO: Sony scandal-Hollywood is Donald Sterling Country after all As for Rogen and Franco, they have great chemistry, not unlike Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis of an earlier time in Hollywood. And then some. Their brand of humor is crass, often childish and offensive. They are also bold, brash and born to be the comedic conscience of their generation – of which “The Interview” is a strong addition to their bible of work.The post ‘The Interview’: Brilliant both as comedy and as political satire appeared first on Voxxi.

Despite initial reports, “The Interview” is going to be released in selected theaters on Christmas Day. (Sony Pictures)

REVIEW

It may be a credit to “The Interview” that it’s the most famous film in the world before its release.

It’s famous because it’s about an egomaniacal dictator, the closest thing today to Adolph Hitler, who has been blamed by the FBI and President Obama for trying to do to the film what it portrays having been done to him.

SEE ALSO: Sony will release ‘The Interview’ on Christmas day

But the film lives, and perhaps it’s important to note that too often the public forgets that political assassinations, like those that have rocked America in the past half century, become national tragedies because of their unfortunate success.

Perhaps it’s only when they fail that we see just how closely interrelated tragedy is to comedy. For this, we need only to look at the several outrageous CIA-sponsored attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro in the 1960s and 1970s.

Tragedy mirrors comedy in failed attempts against dictators

There were special poisons which CIA would-be assassins tried use in order to lace cigars intended for Castro. There was another attempt using a SCUBA diving suit contaminated with disease-causing fungus spores that was to be a gift from the U.S. to the Cuban dictator.

There was even a rigged exploding seashell that would be placed on a seafloor where Castro often went skin diving.

These are important to keep in mind when you watch – and you really must – the much-maligned Seth Rogen-James Franco action comedy “The Interview” that Sony Pictures is now going to try to relaunch in limited release on Christmas Day.

The film, of course, was pulled by Sony when major theaters refused to show it because of threats of violence from the so-called Guardians of Peace group that has claimed responsibility for the cyber attack that has brought the studio to its corporate knees.

It was a cyber attack reportedly brought on to protest “The Interview” and its cinematic assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, who suddenly seems to have extended his heavy hand of rule onto the pop culture of America.

In the course of the running drama over the cyber attack against Sony, the principals behind the film – Rogen, Franco and the studio – have been criticized by some for risking the rights of filmmakers and free speech over what has been widely presumed to be a silly, nonsensical dumb comedy undeserving of such a lofty role in deciding a great issue facing the western world.

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There seems to be some lament that the film at the center of the controversy isn’t something more like Oliver Stone’s “JFK” or Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” about the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

The Interview is more than just a comedy

On Tuesday, however, as Sony prepared to go it again in releasing “The Interview” — albeit on a smaller scale — I was fortunate to see a screening of the film and came away amazed and surprised at an incredibly hilarious film that I believe is much more important than it’s been made out to be. It’s not just because of the cyber attack, the threats and the studio’s decision to withdraw the motion picture under pressure.

“The Interview,” despite some crude humor and poop jokes, is utterly brilliant both as comedy and as political satire, the kind the late Pulitzer Prize winning humorist Art Buchwald would have loved – and not completely unbelievable, if you’ve read the reports put together by the late Senator Frank Church’s Senate Select Committee on Intelligence of the CIA’s attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro.

Those assassination attempts were hardly high brow and the assassins neither John Wilkes Booth nor Lee Harvey Oswald types but more Keystone Cops, which brings to mind Rogen and Franco who in “The Interview” lampoon the real Kim Jong-un the way Charlie Chaplin tweaked Hitler in “The Great Dictator” in 1940.

The brilliance of Rogen and Franco

In “The Interview,” Rogen plays producer Aaron Rapoport of the popular celebrity TV talk show “Skylark Tonight” whose dimwitted host Dave Skylark, played by Franco, somehow manages to elicit astonishing admissions from stars like Rob Lowe and Eminem playing themselves in the film.

Kim Jong-un, this film version of him, would love nothing more than to be on the show of which he’s die-hard fan and, in fact, a secret wannabe American who, if he could, would make Katy Perry the First Lady of North Korea.

The real Kim Jong-un, of course, does keep an eye on American pop culture and counts former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman as a friend.

Sony will release The Interview on Christmas Day.
FILE: Seth Rogen takes part in a SiriusXM Town Hall with Seth Rogen and James Franco with host Lisa Lampinelli on SiriusXM’s Entertainment Weekly Radio channel. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

So in the film — directed by Rogen and Evan Goldberg — it’s no surprise that Kim Jong-un agrees to be interviewed by “Skylark Tonight,” and plans to host the show in Pyongyan.

That’s when the CIA steps in. And if the whole idea of the spy agency recruiting Rogen and Franco to kill Kim Jong-un sounds absurd, remember that the CIA was behind the ridiculous attempts to assassinate Castro, not to mention having botched its protection of JFK in Dallas.

So why couldn’t Rogen and Franco be assassins? Or CIA-backed wannabe assassins?

Of course, the CIA didn’t count on Dave Skylark’s friendship and bromance with Kim Jong-un, played by veteran American actor Randall Park, who portrays the dictator in a fitting and yet almost endearing egomaniacal parody.

Forget about the hype, ok don’t forget about it

Ultimately, “The Interview” may not be what one would expect given all the commotion and controversy. For that matter, the film may surprise many as being much better than some critics have made it out to be. “The Interview” manages to cleverly skewer the media, even before the onset of the current news circus surrounding the film, almost as much as it deals with Kim Jong-un.

SEE ALSO: Sony scandal-Hollywood is Donald Sterling Country after all

As for Rogen and Franco, they have great chemistry, not unlike Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis of an earlier time in Hollywood.

And then some. Their brand of humor is crass, often childish and offensive. They are also bold, brash and born to be the comedic conscience of their generation – of which “The Interview” is a strong addition to their bible of work.

The post ‘The Interview’: Brilliant both as comedy and as political satire appeared first on Voxxi.