On The Interview, Notoriety and Expectations

Dear World,

Stop shitting on The Interview. It might not be your cup of tea, and that’s fine, but let’s cut the snarkfest, shall we? Here’s the deal:

It has been a fascinating couple of weeks. While the cyber attacks on Sony were reprehensible and have caused significant damage to the company and the people who work there, the results have, no doubt, been interesting. And I don’t mean the gossipy crap found in emails between executives. Fuck that shit. No, I mean Sony’s reaction to the hackers’ demands. A Seth Rogen comedy suddenly had the power to start an international conflict. It’s absurd, and watching the past couple of weeks is almost the stuff of a satirical comedy itself – a series of stranger than fiction moments that, until they actually became a reality, you would only expect to see onscreen.

The fact that in the face of unfounded threats of violence, the chain theaters balked, and Sony made the idiotic decision to pull the film. In the aftermath of being called out as idiots and weenies by all of Hollywood, the President of the United States, and the entire Internet, they reversed their decision, working with small, independent movie houses (a moment of applause for them, please, because those guys are the heroes in all of this) and a handful of VOD services to bring The Interview to viewers on Christmas Day.

The Interview now finds itself in a difficult position. What had started out as just another film being released on the Holiday slate now has importance. Significance. Weight beyond being the latest in a string of comedies from a pair of successful filmmakers. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have now made something that people are clamoring to see on more than just the basis of trailers, stars, or their track record in film. The Interview is now a cultural touchstone in our history.

This position of significance is an exciting one, for sure, but also a daunting one. As moviegoers and critics alike are finally able to see the film that has caused so much fuss, opinions are varying widely. Understandably so – it’s a silly comedy and it’s not going to be for everyone. Had it been released without causing an international incident, it would have had fans and detractors, just like This is the End, Knocked Up and Superbad.

But the frustrating part of watching this unfold is that now, this innocuous film that, until recently, was just another holiday ticket, is now being held up to an impossible standard. I am seeing more and more snark circulating as people fail to see what all the fuss was about.

“Blagh, blagh blagh…and it wasn’t even that good.”

“<fart noise>…it really isn’t even that funny.”

Whaaaaaaaaa….wasn’t even worth seeing!”

You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, and you are, of course, not required to like the film. But let’s keep it in perspective, okay?

The Interview should be evaluated like any other movie, free of the craziness that surrounded its release. This film is an important and fascinating chapter in history, and we will all be able to look back years from now and remember that Christmas all when all of that insane shit when down with North Korea over a silly movie where Seth Rogen put something up his ass.

Which isn’t to say the film failed – I enjoyed it. It was well acted and funny and topical and I had a good time. I look forward to seeing it again. And that certainly isn’t going to be everyone’s opinion – nor should it. The beauty of art, and specifically of comedy, is that it is never going to appeal to everyone. We all have our own tastes and different pieces will appeal to some, but not to others. It’s the way it goes.

But keep it all in perspective. This was never about the quality of the movie. Hackers didn’t get all pissy over The Interview being such a powerful and amazing film, and movie goers didn’t defend it because they expected it to be a particularly enlightening piece. This was about being able to make the decision to see and judge the film for yourself, and not have our art censored by masked assholes on the other side of the world. 

The fact that it was controversial doesn’t in some way guarantee an impossibly brilliant movie-going experience. The Interview is what it was always going to be – a fun comedy mocking two world powers in a fun and juvenile way while I laugh and sit there and eat Junior Mints. And really, that’s all it needs to be. The explosive situation surrounding it is its own story, so please leave it there when you walk into the theater, or bring up the VOD service. And whatever you think of the film, be happy that you had the opportunity to watch it and to form that opinion, as you always should have.