[Stage of Tampa Theatre. Cropped from: George.]
I sped away into the night thinking about death, and not just because of the accident I'd had just down the road two months earlier. North Korea had ominously reminded us, the US, to "remember the 11th of September 2001". I imagine they worded it that way because perhaps in North Korea dates are written in the European order as an affront to America.
I arrived at the theater 10 minutes late, worried the tickets would be sold out, and locked my bike across the street from the police cruiser stationed there to protect us from the threat of a North Korean attack. A cameraman from the news chatted with the officer on duty. At $11 the ticket was a far cry from the $7 admission for Annie earlier that day at a commercial cinema, but scarcity and desperation make for a harsh mistress.
When I walked in the movie was already en marche. Seth "Aaron Rapaport" Rogen, is the producer of the program Skylark Tonight, of which James "Dave Skylark" Franco is the host. At that particular moment he was eliciting an unexpected confession of homosexuality from Eminem, immediately setting the tone of the film with the chyron "Hector's rectum is real". Homosexuality was to be the butt of many jokes, as were East Asians and the intelligence of women. After a hard-hitting interview with Rob Lowe, Rapaport learns the leader of North Korea is a fan of Skylark and contacts the North Korean government to arrange an interview, looking to advance his journalistic credentials.
I laughed at almost every joke, all 'politically-incorrect', not in spite of myself, but secure in the knowledge that the movie is so transparently offensive it's actually an attack on men like Skylark, who rises to the top of his game despite being stupid and talentless, and Kim Jong-un, the luckiest offspring of his father, whose likeness lingers in the background of the interview. It is the women who ended up coordinating the upheaval of Jong-un's regime: Agent Lacey of the CIA orchestrating an assassination attempt from America, while Sook Young Park sabotages the censorship of Jong-un's interview with Skylark.
I made an effort to note every potentially-offensive joke as soon as I was done laughing. We have on this roster Nicki Minaj's exposed vagina (actually, I did not understand this one); Skylark and Rapaport's numerous impressions of East Asians in the vein of 'me so horny'; Rapaport's montage of traveling to a remote Chinese location, akin to the season 3 finale of Louie; the naïveté of the fictional Koreans in believing Kim Jong-un does not possess an ordinary digestive system; Kim Jong-un refusing to shake Rapaport's hand because he is a Jew; a woman preternaturally desirous of Rapaport because he is ginger and hairy, "like a bear", although that one is extremely relatable. Blood and guts flow as liberally as the references to Lord of the Rings.
James Franco and Seth Rogen have a very loving relationship, of course, as we have seen from Rogen riding his ursine body on Franco in the Bound 3 video. It's because I am so convinced of the sincerity of their homosocialism that I found all the buttstuff hilarious, not homophobic. How many times do you think you could laugh at the pain of unintentional anal penetration? Whatever that number is, add one.
The actual country of North Korea does not come into play at all except as backgrond scenery (literally), since the movie passes almost directly from America into Kim Jong-un's forest retreat and environs. Other than Randall Park's sympathetic portrayal of Kim Jong-un as a soft, volatile man with the sort of issues to be expected from having an overbearing father, we only ever see evidence of his might, of his iron fist and personal splendour. Please don't kill us, Kim Jong-un, we think just as highly of you after watching the movie as we did before.
I hoped in watching the film, and in "the journey" the film made to the screen, I would be able to make an overbearing conclusion such as "I came to the theater in search of The Interview. I ended up finding myself." but the night didn't play out like that. All the notes I made in the dark, with no firm backing and an undersized pen, are unintelligible removed a whole day from their context.
At the climax of the movie, the neutered Skylark must decide whether to kowtow to the luxurious charms of the Dear Leader, or do the American thing and stand up for his principles, not unlike the distributors of the film. When Kim Jong-un died, his head exploding in slow-motion to a quiet rendition of Katy Perry's 'Firework', the audience exploded in applause while a few young men jeered the name of our country at the screen. In the lobby several people bursted with the pride of being American, of declaring how American they felt, while a saxophone rendition of My Favorite Things wafted in through the doors on the cool night air. "My grandfather fought against North Korea in the war, and here I was, winning another small battle in his name," I think, would have made a very good sentence to end the post with.