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Movie Review

The Interview

MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, crude and sexual humor, nudity, some drug use and bloody violence.

Reviewed by: Jake Roberson
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Action Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 52 min.
Year of Release:
2014
USA Release:
December 25, 2014 (wide—200+ theaters)
January 2, 2015 (wide—581 theaters)
DVD: February 17, 2015
Copyright, Columbia Pictures—Sony Pictures click photos to ENLARGE
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures—Sony Pictures

North Korean issues on the world stage

personality cult of North Korean dictators Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and Kim Yong-ju

the cruelties of Communism in the real world

North Koreans have been referred to as “some of the world’s most brutalized people” by Human Rights Watch.

Freedom of religion is restricted in practice in North Korea.

Open Doors mission claims the most severe persecution of Christians in the world occurs in North Korea.

PERSECUTION—Why and how should we pray for suffering Christians? Answer

Copyright, Columbia Pictures—Sony Pictures

ramifications of crude and sexual humor in movies and in their personal lives

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer


the theme in the movie that wolves can sport wounds of their own and that, deep down, everyone desperately desires to be known and loved

Homosexuality issues

GAY—What’s wrong with being gay? Answer
Homosexual behavior versus the Bible: Are people born gay? Does homosexuality harm anyone? Is it anyone’s business? Are homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally valid?

What about gays needs to change? Answer
It may not be what you think.

Read stories about those who have struggled with homosexuality

Copyright, Columbia Pictures—Sony Pictures
Racism

RACISM—What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer

Racism, Racial Issues and Christianity
Get biblical answers to racial hot-topics. Where did the races come from? How did skin color come about? Why is it important to have a biblical foundation for such issues?
Featuring: James FrancoDave Skylark
Seth RogenAaron Rapaport
Lizzy Caplan … Agent Lacey
Randall Park … Kim Jung-Un
Diana Bang … Sook
Timothy Simons … Malcolm
Reese Alexander … Agent Botwin
James Yi … Officer Koh
Eminem … Himself (uncredited) more »
Director: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Producer: Columbia Pictures
Point Grey Pictures
Distributor: Columbia Pictures—Sony Pictures

Dave Skylark (James Franco) and Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen) are really good at what they do. Like insanely good, and their show, Skylark Tonight (a wildly successful, sleaze-obsessed Hollywood talk show hosted by Dave and produced by Aaron), is proof of that. But, while Dave is content with lapping at the fortunes of his fame, Aaron wants more. He wants more respect, not more schlock. He wants to cover real news.

So when the opportunity to interview North Korea’s supreme dictator is dropped in their lap, thanks to Kim Jung-Un’s fondness of Dave’s antics, he is cautiously excited. Even more so after the CIA enlists him and Dave to assassinate the infamous Supreme Ruler of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Aaron knows its crazy and almost balks, but Dave is just fame-crazy enough to think they can make it work. All they have to do is cooly kill one of the world’s most reclusive and volatile leaders. No big deal, right? It’s not like this Kim Jung-Un is a friendly, personable guy, right?

Right?

Setting aside its considerable faults and flaws, the most intriguing aspect of “The Interview” is its attempt to humanize its primary target. Kim Jung-Un may be a power-crazed dictator who brainwashes his subjects and leaves them to starvation and inhumane living conditions, but this film, while not completely shying away from recognizing those faults, explores a wounded, more conflicted side of the leader than one might have expected. He’s unhinged, sure, but maybe, the movie suggests, that has a lot to do with a seriously insane upbringing.

Regardless of Jung-Un’s real story, the message is one that applies to all of humanity. We’re all quite flawed (Romans 3:23), and our faults are never as simple or as “black and white” as they might appear on the surface. Kim Jung-Un may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15-16), but “The Interview” asks us to remember that wolves can sport wounds of their own and that, deep down, everyone desperately desires to be known and loved. A kind of love it doesn’t really know where to find, but we know only comes from God (Jeremiah 31:3; John 14:6; Romans 5:8).

Aaron and Dave, despite their flaws, do care for one another deeply. Even though their friendship is heavily tested by their heavy task and Jung-Un’s skillful manipulation, they find a way to stick together through it all in the end (Proverbs 18:24).

Of course, one has to dig for all of this, and they’re lessons learned much more easily and fully elsewhere. But, amidst the mess, they are still there to be gleaned.

About that mess, though…

Spiritual Content: Multiple references are made to Kim Jung-Un being seen, revered, and even worshipped as a god by the people of North Korea due to the government’s propaganda. We see much of that propaganda plastered around the country once Aaron and Dave land there. At different points, Jung-Un laughs at the silliness of their beliefs about him and laments the burden of this part of his public image.

Sexual Content: There are references to bestiality, rape, a plethora of sexual gestures and mimicry, as well as a lengthy opening scene focused on Eminem nonchalantly coming out as gay on Skylark Tonight. Pervasive, crude sexual dialog, references, and images run throughout the film. ***WARNING: IT GETS MORE GRAPHIC. SKIP TO THE CONCLUSION, UNLESS YOU NEED MORE DETAILS*** A recurring theme/joke revolves around who is or is not “honeyp*tting”/”honeyd*cking” whom. There are several references to and gags about masturbation, including a graphic, overlong bit where Dave waxes on about orgasms in gay porn videos. Another exchange features Dave analyzing his “stink d*ck” and what kind of woman might have given it to him.

Visually, we see Aaron almost completely nude when being strip-searched by North Korean soldiers. (All this after a long scene where Dave and a CIA agent coax him through hiding a large capsule in his backside.) Later we see Kim Jung-Un completely nude from behind as he changes clothes. Twice Dave kisses other men on the mouth. Those kisses, coupled with his monologue about gay porn and several other quips, hint at Dave’s bisexual curiosity/experimentation with men.

A group of lingerie-clad women cavort with Kim and Dave during an extended scene that includes two women kissing. The same scene shows several quick shots of topless women playing with the two men.

Aaron and Sook (Kim Jung-Un’s lead propagandist/undercover Freedom Fighter) are attracted to one another and makeout passionately several times. Twice we see Sook in her bra as she and Aaron paw at each other. The camera watches as they briefly have loud, rowdy (clothed) sex in the armory.

lust and fornication in the Bible

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Sex, Love and RelationshipsLearn how to make your love the best it can be. Christian answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

Violence: The violence ramps up in the movie’s final act as Aaron, Dave, and Sook blast their way out of Un’s palace. Many soldiers are mowed down by high-powered machine guns and large quantities of bloody mist fill the screen as they are killed. Aaron gets in a vicious fight with a North Korean man that features three fingers being bitten off (one at a time) in graphic fashion and culminates in one man being shot in the foot and another having his backside jammed down on a control stick shortly before he’s shot the head.

Elsewhere, the camera watches closely as a tank tread crushes the body of a North Korean soldier, and another scene features a soldier having a violent seizure and accidentally shooting a friend through the head at close range—which causes blood and gore to cover everyone around them and we see the mangled remains of his head. A soldier is shot in the butthole by Kim Jung-Un. A tank shell rips a helicopter apart and the camera gets a close-up of a man being burned/blown up in slow motion, cutting away only at the very last moment.

Language: D*mn is used three times by itself and paired with “God” five more times. God’s name is used alone in vain 15 more times, and Jesus’ name is abused once. F-words are more brazen, as 154 variations get screen time here. Dozens of d*ck jokes litter the proceedings, as do plenty of other crude dialog featuring perennial Goldberg/Rogen/Franco favorites like c*nt, c*ck, v*gina, and a variety of vulgar sexual terms and entendres. H*ll (3), b*stard (1), a** is bandied about 10 times, while b*tch comes in at nine uses.

Drug/Alcohol Content: It’s clear that Aaron and Dave are fond of partying, and both are seen inebriated several times after either drinking too much, getting too high, or both. Dave also parties and gets drunk and high with Kim. Marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy are all named and used. Several people are seen smoking, and Kim puffs on a sizable cigar.

Other Negative Elements: A man vomits profusely and defecates loudly in his pants as he dies from being poisoned. During a particularly emotional moment in his climactic interview with Dave, Kim Jung-Un “shards” in his pants. A young North Korean girl sings a sweet-sounding song about hoping for the destruction of America and the violent, profane death of its citizens, including lines about hoping they “drown in blood and feces”.

Conclusion

Almost as striking as the fact that Kim Jung-Un is its most nuanced character is the fact that “The Interview” is so very bland and vanilla. There are several moments where the film feels like it might almost become interesting, but every time it chucks that promise aside in favor of spiraling back down crude, genitalia-obsessed rabbit trails.

It is less shocking than Goldberg/Rogen/Franco’s previous collaboration in “This Is The End”—so much so that it almost feels tame in comparison. But it still can’t ever fully escape the bondage of its creators’ insistence on jam-packing it with juvenile humor.

Ultimately it’s a film that will likely only be remembered for the real-world politics surrounding it. There is just so very little real substance. Which, due to Randall Park’s surprisingly compelling turn as Kim Jung-Un, almost feels like a shame. An opportunity wasted, if you will. Not that many expected a thoughtful take from this creative team, but the brief flashes that do show through are enough to leave one wondering what could have been.

As it stands, though, “The Interview” is little more than a forgettable film that Sony Pictures likely only wishes it could actually forget about thanks to the unforgettable consequences they’ve endured because of it—a film an individual can forget about by not spending time or money on it in the first place.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Neutral
Neutral—All the hype about VidAngel is entirely justified. I tried it on this film and it worked amazingly. For those who don’t know, VidAngel is a $1 movie streaming service that filters out whatever you tell it to; in this case, I filtered out the profanity and sexual content. Because of this, I’m not giving it a moral rating. I’m sure the reviewer is right about the crude humor and language, but where I disagree with him is about the quality. The cinematography in this film is amazing, and the action special effects are the best I’ve ever seen in a comedy. Also, the political satire is downright, laugh-out-loud hilarious. But most importantly, the political message was not disappointing. I applaud this film’s boldness to speak the truth even though it will offend many. Communism is clearly portrayed as evil, and the film even demonstrates its power to manipulate good people. How unfortunate that such talented, intelligent filmmakers felt the need to stoop to the level of excessive language and genital jokes. However, I highly recommend watching this film on VidAngel.
My Ratings: Moral rating: / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Gabriel Mohler, age 26 (USA)

“VOTING” FOR BAD MOVIES—Every time you buy or rent a movie, you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem? Answer


Negative
Negative—This one was a no-brainer, as far as for Christian viewing. It is just plain offensive. If you are a James Franco-Seth Rogan fan, and you enjoy unnecessary foul language, unnecessary offensive images, unnecessary violence, unnecessary racial slurs, and… well… everything that is vulgar and degrading towards just about everything and everybody, this is the film for you.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Sheri (McMurray) Vieth, age 61 (USA)
Movie Critics

… it’s a pity that the film is bereft of satiric zing, bludgeoning the laughs with a nonstop sledgehammer of bro humor. … [C]
—Joe McGovern, Entertainment Weekly

…wildly uneven… bawdy, self-consciously transgressive tone… a sense of humor primarily characterized by a frat-boy/altered state/prolonged adolescence mind-set…
—Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

…The joke barrage becomes hit-or-miss, as if the creators… don’t know or care which is which. …Pushing bromance even further than in other Rogen movies, the schlub and the stud exchange hugs, kisses and homoerotic endearments. …
—Richard Corliss, Time magazine

…Controversial ‘Interview’ is only second-rate Rogen… [2/4]
—Sara Stewart, New York Post

…Watch it to battle tyranny! But not for the laughs. …Franco and Rogen’s chemistry is wearing thin. They argue with and/or freak out at each other a lot here—this is basically just “Pineapple Express II: The Quest to Assassinate Kim Jong-un”—but the humor never quite lands …
—Aisha Harris, Slate magazine

…Too many of the jokes are repeated, and too many of the situations are familiar …a dopey comedy that suddenly swerves into gruesome, gory violence. … [2]
—Stephen Whitty, The Star-Ledger (New Jersey)

… a goofy, strenuously naughty, hit-and-miss farce, propelled not by any particular political ideas but by the usual spectacle of male sexual, emotional and existential confusion. …
—A.O. Scott, The New York Times

…I didn’t laugh once… Opportunities at rich satire flatten out into “Hangover” dude-dope-doodoo jokes… [2]
—Steven Boone, freelance film critic

Comments from non-viewers
Negative—In all honesty, I don’t even go to the movies anymore, and that’s a sad thing to say. Everything they’re showing nowadays is rated-X material. First of all, assassinating the leader of a country isn’t funny, to me anyway, even if the country is Communist. I don’t see where killing has humor in it.

Finally, this movie has WAY too much sexual content, too much for a normal person to handle. You would have to be sick to watch all of that and not see anything wrong with it. I can’t believe they would put that in a movie and show it in a public theater. Films aren’t even worth watching; it’s a shame.
—T., age 21 (USA)
Negative—I saw part of this movie on-line. There is a lot of swearing in it. I only saw about 10 or 15 minutes, but they use the f-word a lot. Very offensive.
—Connie (USA)

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