There was never any question this week that I would be spending part of my Christmas watching The Interview. When it was announced the morning that the film would get an online release at 10 a.m. PST, without missing a beat I yelled to my mom in the next room (who I am currently visiting for the holidays) that we would have to cancel a day trip we had planned. Welcome to the hot take workshop: when a story snowballs to the proportion that the Sony hack and near-non-release of The Interview has, a certain kind of professional easily becomes a slave to the feeds and the whims of the individuals at the center of the story.
But having now finally watched Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and screenwriter Dan Sterling's film, I can confirm with confidence that the least important element of the story of The Interview is The Interview itself.
Of course, it was bound to be an emperor-has-no-clothes situation, much like the buildup to any other anticipated Hollywood blockbuster. We have endured a month of the equivalent of trailers and teaser trailers and previews of the teaser trailers courtesy of the Guardians of Peace and Michael Lynton, and as cynical moviegoers we should be used to the idea that the product at the center of the storm can't stand up to that kind of scrutiny and speculation. The Interview is substandard Apatovian bro-fare to the point of self-parody, full of the offensive Asian accents and dick-joke-a-minute banter one would expect; Lizzie Caplan's CIA agent is a carbon copy of Cecily Strong's "one-dimensional female character from a male driven comedy" as seen on SNL's Weekend Update a couple weeks ago, down to the bangs and glasses.
It should not be a terribly revelatory statement to claim that a Seth Rogen/James Franco gross-out buddy romp is not a good film, but the story surrounding it has elevated it to the realm of hyperbole. After Sony's initial decision to pull the film, the (completely righteous) indignation over the cowardice of the film industry quickly rendered the discourse in black-and-white. Even as many of us suspected the film was trash, we begrudgingly accepted that The Interview was the most important film of our era, and it was our duty as cineasts to defend and champion it as such. In the past week, the #IWouldGo hashtag sprung up in support of independent theaters screening the film. Either you were first in line for The Interview in whatever form it ended up screening, or you hated America.
#YouCanGo if you want, but sheesh, #YouDontHaveToGo. Just as it's our right as Americans to put out any dumb, racist, homophobic, misogynistic comedy that also happens to depict the fiery death of a sitting political leader, it's also our right to not give a shit about said comedy. Not only is there nothing revolutionary about The Interview, there is nothing revolutionary about the screening and viewing of The Interview. That's not to say that it shouldn't happen, but let's keep it all in perspective. More than anything, watching the same bros make jokes about gay anal sex for fun and profit actually kinda sounds like business as usual.
If you are not the kind of person who would normally go see The Interview, but have been swept up in the mania surrounding it and have a ticket to a brick-and-mortar screening on Christmas Day, maybe take a moment to ask yourself why. Consider spending those two hours with your families or loved ones instead; they probably miss you and love you. If you want to support the cinematic arts on Christmas, that's great — see if you can trade your Alamo ticket for a screening of The Babadook or hey, even Wild. I've heard mixed things, but who isn't rooting for lil' Reese? Good luck at the Oscars this year, Dub-spoon.
If you were going to see The Interview even before the GOP tried to take it away from us, then by all means, get out there and have your fun. If I sound judgy, it's because I'm judging you: The Interview is a bad movie that trivializes one of the worst ongoing human rights violations on our planet right now, and its distribution, as integral as it is to our First amendment rights, will change absolutely nothing. Still, I am a little grateful for the early online release today; it means we can get on with our lives that much sooner.