Barbara Demick, author of the excellent window into daily North Korean life Nothing To Envy, gives a scholarly (and surprisingly positive) response to The Interview:
“From my viewpoint, what the film gets most right is the psychology of North Korea. The regime is held together by the myth that members of the Kim family are gods, ruling by divine providence. ‘The Interview’ addresses this phenomenon with toilet humor when Skylark asks the fictional Kim, ‘Do you pee and poo? … You mean, you’ve got a butthole?’ (I’ve never heard North Koreans speculate about the leadership’s toilet habits, but I recall a North Korean doctor telling me that she was amazed by Kim Il-sung’s death, at the age of 82; she hadn’t believed that he could die like an ordinary mortal.)”
And what about the satire aimed back at the US? Well:
“The scene that has raised the most objections in ‘The Interview’ is at the very end, when Kim’s head dissolves into flames. To me, it feels gratuitous. The actual money shot is when Skylark interviews Kim on a live international television broadcast and reduces the young dictator to tears. ‘I don’t need my father,’ he sobs. ‘I am strong.’ He is revealed as human and fallible, puncturing the underlying myth of North Korea.
Perhaps the truest words are spoken by the fictional North Korean propagandist, Sook: ‘Killing Kim won’t change anything. … The people need to be shown that he is not a god, that he is man.’ When Skylark challenges her, she questions him, ‘How many times can the U.S. make the same mistake?’
Skylark retorts, ‘As many times as it takes.’”
Believe me, I’m no movie snob. I consider Step Brothers to be up there with Citizen Kane when it comes to movies I’ve enjoyed. Franco and Rogen’s last flick, This Is The End, didn’t really hold together but definitely had me laughing out loud a few times (“Hermione just stole all of our shit”).
But even though I live in South Korea, I just can’t muster the interest to check it out. To make light of the ongoing human rights abuses in the North, even if as Demick suggests the film does point to some larger truths about the nature of the Kim regime, just doesn’t seem right.