The raunchy comedy's villain is North Korean leader Kim Jong
Un, a creative choice that sparked a real-life threat from the
hermetic nation and possibly, as some speculate, a damaging
cyberattack on the movie studio by unidentified hackers.
The film pairs high-stakes geopolitics with the hallmark bawdy
language, stoner jokes and bathroom humor presented by stars
Seth Rogen and James Franco.
"The Interview" is the second film Rogen and Evan Goldberg
directed, produced and wrote after last year's raunchy
apocalypse spoof "This is the End."
Out in U.S. theaters on Dec. 25, the film follows flamboyant TV
host Skylark (Franco), who cajoles Eminem and other celebrities
into revealing their secrets to him and long-time producer Aaron
(Rogen), who has loftier ambitions of moving into serious news.
After hearing Kim is a fan of Skylark, Aaron secures an
interview with the North Korean leader in his home nation,
seeking to resolve whether he has functioning bowels. (Spoiler
alert: They prove he does).
The CIA recruits the hapless duo to assassinate Kim by asking
Skylark to discreetly poison him with ricin administered through
Early reviews on Friday were mixed. Variety called the film a
"half-baked burlesque" and warned moviegoers to prepare for "an
evening of cinematic waterboarding."
The Hollywood Reporter compared "The Interview" to "a
mediocre-to-average 'Saturday Night Live' sketch." British
newspaper The Guardian called it a "tasteless but amusing
comedy," giving it three out of five stars.
At the film's Los Angeles premiere on Thursday, a rowdy audience
laughed throughout the male-centric comedy.
Before the screening, Rogen praised Sony Pictures Co-Chairman
Amy Pascal for "having the balls to make this thing."
BOOST FROM CONTROVERSY
Korean-American actor Randall Park plays Kim, whom the film
portrays as drinking excessively and baring his naked derriere.
North Korea is often the butt of the joke, and during the
interview, Skylark asks Kim on camera why he does not feed his
people. Eventually, the journalist makes him break down in heavy
In real life, North Korea complained to the United Nations in
June, accusing the United States of sponsoring terrorism and
committing an act of war by allowing the movie's production.
The publicity surrounding the attack may prompt more people to
see "The Interview." Boxoffice.com chief analyst Phil Contrino
said he expected the movie to open with $22 million in U.S. and
Canadian ticket sales, mostly to male fans who have embraced
Rogen and Franco's style of humor.
"This wave of publicity cemented some interest that was there,"
But for Sony, which may face tens of millions of dollars in
costs from the security hack, Contrino said the film's success
would be "an awfully small silver lining compared to the weight
of what's happening to them."
In late November, Sony Pictures' computer network was crippled
after an attack by hackers who stole and released five films,
employee data and internal emails. People close to the
investigation have told Reuters that North Korea is a principal
suspect, but a North Korean diplomat has denied that his nation
Pascal defended the film to trade outlet Deadline Hollywood on
Thursday, saying: "No one will tell us what movies to release,
But leaked emails did show that Sony Corp Chief Executive
Officer Kazuo Hirai ordered the film to be toned down after
Pyongyang complained. Rogen objected but complied before the
(Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Mary Milliken
and Lisa Von Ahn)
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