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The Interview by way of Austin

James Franco and Seth Rogen
James Franco and Seth Rogen

Editor's note: EW was informed by Bijou Art Cinemas after the paper went to press Tuesday that The Interview will start screening at Bijou Art Cinemas (492 E. 13th Ave.) 10:30 pm Thursday, Dec. 25. City Lights Cinemas in Florence has informed EW that they will begin screening The Interview noon Thursday, Dec. 25.

 

Less than two weeks ago, I became one of the lucky viewers to see The Interview at a screening hosted by Harry Knowles, founder of Ain’t It Cool News, in Austin, Texas, with directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg in tow. At the time, it didn’t seem odd to see the film a few weeks early.

The Interview, a film previously scheduled to hit theaters nationwide on Christmas, was removed from distribution last week following terrorist threats from the Guardians of Peace (GOP) — a hacker group believed to have ties to the North Korean government — targeting cinemas that screened it. This comes on the heels of the November Sony hack by GOP, speculated to be retaliation against the film, which leaked the personal information of thousands of employees, including social security numbers, executive salaries and some damning emails between Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin. 

The film, directed and written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, went from being one of 2014’s most anticipated releases to the movie nobody can see. Nobody, that is, unless you’re one of the few who managed to see it before its theatrical run was canceled.

In Austin, Rogen and Goldberg introduced the film and answered questions afterward. One audience member asked if they had received any personal threats and Rogen remarked that they wouldn’t have traveled to Austin if they had. They both seemed upbeat and excited for the film’s imminent release.

The funny thing about The Interview is that people who’ve never seen it have grossly exaggerated the controversial plot. Yes, it does center on a CIA assassination plot against North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, but it’s much more about friendship, stereotypes and cultural misunderstanding. 

The film is actually flattering to Jong-un in many ways, as it explores how such a young man was thrust into power from relative obscurity in a country that has had only three “supreme leaders” — his father, grandfather and himself. This version of Jong-un secretly loves Katy Perry, enjoys drinking margaritas and, contrary to what the film says is actually told to North Korean citizens, urinates and defecates like a normal human being. This cinematic Jong-un seems more relatable than the actual North Korean leader.

Those who liked Rogen and Goldberg’s directorial 2012 debut, This Is The End, wherein Rogen and frequent co-star James Franco play exaggerated versions of themselves in an apocalyptic Los Angeles, will enjoy The Interview, should it ever be released. The film is filled with raunchy jokes, ridiculous twists (I’m still cackling about an unexpected convergence between Rogen, a CIA drone and a tiger) and instantly quotable lines; Franco’s character, a popular TV talk show host set to interview Jong-un in North Korea, responds to criticism with “They hate us ’cause they ain’t us.” Rogen, his TV producer, accuses a male CIA agent of trying to “honeydick” them into carrying out the assassination. 

Sony would be wise to release it as soon as possible, not only to recoup the financial losses of pulling the film and to satiate the curiosity of American audiences who don’t like to be denied, but to make a statement that film, like any art, need not be sacrificed to the demands of those who may find it unsettling.