Sony decided to release “The Interview” online following its initial decision to pull the movie after threats from a hacker group.
You can also watch the movie in about 300 US theatres starting Christmas Day.
The hacker group, Guardians of Peace (GOP), was backed by North Korea, the FBI said on Friday. The movie depicts the assassination of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.
So, what’s all the fuss about? I rented “The Interview” on Google Play and watched the whole thing. Here’s my quick take:
First of all, the movie is terrible. I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, but for a guy as funny as Seth Rogen, it’s pretty bad. Lots of fart jokes and gratuitous swearing. You shouldn’t feel some sort of nationalistic obligation to watch “The Interview.” It’s that bad.
But it’s also easy to see why GOP and North Korea went to war against this movie. It paints Kim Jong Un as a childish playboy. He listens to Katy Perry. He dances with strippers. He’s obsessed with margaritas and American culture.
He poops in his pants.
There are also a bunch of American celebrity cameos, which comes off as a tacit endorsement of the film’s message by some of the most famous people in the US. Brian Williams. Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Eminem. Rob Lowe. Bill Maher. And more.
Here’s a breakdown of what I saw watching the movie. There are obviously a few spoilers, but I mostly stuck to the plot points that likely angered the GOP and North Korea.
We start with this modified Columbia Pictures logo. It gives the sense of an old propaganda film.
More propaganda-type stuff in the opening credits.
The first scene is this little girl in North Korea singing about how the country wants the US to explode in a ball of fiery hell.
NBC News Anchor Brian Williams has a cameo, with a report that North Korea built a new missile that can reach the US.
But while the rest of the world is freaking out, James Franco’s character is interviewing Eminem about the lyrics in his latest song. This is mostly just exposition though.
Franco and Seth Rogen’s characters are celebrating their 1,000th episode. The show mostly covers celebrity gossip though. Still, it’s clear the two want to be hard-hitting journalists.
At the party, Rogen meets an old friend, a producer for 60 Minutes. The friend makes fun of Rogen for running a celebrity gossip show and not a serious news show.
There are a lot of cameos in this movie. Here’s Rob Lowe.
Plot twist! A news report comes out that Kim Jong Un is a big fan of Franco’s character’s gossip show. Rogen and Franco see this as a chance to finally land a serious interview.
Rogen tries to call Kim Jong Un’s office for an interview. Eventually they call back. But Rogen is drunk in a cab and does a really bad, offensive Asian accent.
Rogen goes to a secret location in China to meet with Kim Jong Un’s representatives to set up the interview.
He finally meets them on a mountain in China. They set up the conditions for the interview.
Another cameo: Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Before the guys go to North Korea, this CIA agent shows up and asks them to assassinate Kim Jong Un.
The guys agree, and the CIA tells them that the assassination can’t be tied to the US.
Things finally get interesting when they make it to North Korea. For example, Franco’s characters asks if it’s true everyone in the country is starving. Their chaperone drives them by a grocery store and a kid with a lollipop to prove them wrong.
There are a lot of silly hijinks and butt jokes after the guys get to North Korea. Almost an hour into the movie, we finally see Kim Jong Un. He comes off as a silly fanboy who has a crush on Franco’s character. It’s almost like watching a cartoon.
The two of them sit in a tank and listen to Katy Perry. Kim Jong Un acts like a teenage girl.
Then they hang out with a bunch of strippers.
But their friendship is short. Franco learns Kim Jong Un is a bad guy. And the grocery store he saw earlier was fake.
Finally, Franco interviews Kim Jong Un. Franco has a change of heart halfway through the interview and asks Un tough questions like why he can’t feed his people and why he puts them in concentration camps. Un’s people freak out and start attacking Rogen’s character. There’s a lot of over-the-top violence. The interview continues, but ends with Kim pooping in his pants.
A long action scene follows the interview. It ends with Kim Jong Un getting blown up in a helicopter. It’s pretty graphic. Oh, and Katy Perry’s “Firework” is playing as Kim dies.