Friday, December 26, 2014

Sony's 'The Interview': A Film Review

December 26, 2014, 1:00 p.m.

Initially "censored" by Sony and distributors, "The Interview" has now been released. I have just come from streaming the movie in my living room. Here are some thoughts.

The producers of "The Interview," were not trying to put it on some list of "America's 100 Best Films Ever." Accordingly, it's unfair to fault them for failing to make that list.

Do you believe that self-censorship is rampant throughout our society, from the family dinner table to the corporate workplace, and there's no reason why it shouldn't be present in the film and television industries as well? If so, you may want to fault them for failing to seek a second opinion about the wisdom of a storyline about the CIA's desire to assassinate North Korea's President Kim. See, "Threats and Sensibilities: Presidents Kim, Lynton and Mason."

If you don't believe that, whatever you end up thinking about the quality of the film, you'll give them credit for reversing course and making it available to us, notwithstanding the risks.

There are film snobs, and many less-film-sophisticated adults, who fear they may be snubbed for their poor taste in film if they do not reject out of hand any films that create uproarious laughter from junior-high-aged male movie goers. These critics profess to be offended by some of the "shocking" and "disgusting" language and scenes in such films. If you are among such adults, you will probably not want to see this film either.

There is a class of films I refer to as "fifteen-year-old" films. They are not films from 2000, 15 years ago. They are films designed to appeal to 15-year-olds. They are not among my first or favorite, let alone my only, choice in films. But neither do I reject them out of hand. I judge them for what they are. Many are quite funny. Some are embedded with serious lessons.

"The Interview" is much more than a fifteen-year-old film -- although it is also that. Much of the script is very well written. Any adult who can sit through it without numerous big laughs is no one with whom I'd be interested in spending much time. The acting and directing are excellent. There are illusions to real events that many adults will catch, though most of the kids will miss. Hidden within that humor is some serious content and commentary -- including its critique of today's "news media" and our CIA's tactics.

In short, I think the producers, director, and actors accomplished what they set out to do, and have provided all of us some genuine entertainment as a result.

Ironically, if anyone should feel upset by the caricatures of the characters, it should be any Americans who feel they are being portrayed by the bumbling American talk show team or our assassination-plotting CIA, not President Kim. Throughout much of the film the likeable Kim is actually portrayed very sympathetically.

I wanted to see it because I had written about the initial controversy, felt obliged to inform myself about the actual movie, consider it a kind of major year-end news event for 2014, and suspected that I would enjoy it -- for what it is -- as I did. As they say in the auto ads, "Your mileage may differ" -- you may not have my motives for watching, and may really not like it at all.

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