Day 35. 82 pages, 39,434 words.
As a bonus-film at the end of our little marathon on Saturday, we sat down and watched this much-agonised-over piece of controversially-banned and conspiracy-theorised film-making history. And it was unexpectedly, shockingly funny.
Now, I say this as someone who thought Your Highness was pretty funny, and This Is The End was worth a guffaw or two. I accept that a lot of people didn’t think those movies were much good, and that’s putting it mildly. And I haven’t seen that many Seth Rogen films, or Franco / Rogen (hereinafter Frogen) team-ups. But this one was funnier. And yes, I’d warmed up on three increasingly-funny action-cop blockbusters, and had been drinking slowly but steadily for half the day, but it was still funny.
I can’t say much about the controversy and conspiracy muttering about this movie. I don’t really care if the cinema-release ban was insisted upon by North Korea and for some bizarre reason enforced by gutless film companies, or if it was some sort of weird US government censorship thing, or a massively-ineffectual publicity stunt (hint: I think a few weeks of distribution at major cinemas would have counterbalanced the underground downloading and sharing movement by several orders of magnitude). This film was well-worthy of being shown in cinemas, and in terms of offensiveness against North Korea and its glorious leader? Wow, nowhere near as offensive as Team America: World Police, although certainly less over-the-top and more realistically-portrayed. Maybe that’s what makes the difference.
Although let’s keep it real – I’m not entirely sure why anyone cares about this guy’s wounded feels.
Okay, it’s not nice to show people getting their heads blown off. And it’s a different ball-game when you do it to a representation of a real person than when you do it to some fictional bad guy. And North Korea is shrouded in mystery and propaganda. Kim Jong-un could be a vile oppressor, starving his people and readying his nation for nuclear war. I suppose that’s a strong likelihood. He’s probably a worse guy than a lot of the fictional villains we love to watch getting splattered. This movie is more comparable to a movie where Adolf Hitler gets killed, or Saddam Hussein. And when that happens, it’s basically just seen as funny. They were pretty clear-cut horrible people. Even qualifying that with any kind of ‘maybe’s or ‘apparently’s feels wrong.
But yes, when politics gets involved, a movie stops just being a movie. And this one certainly smacks more of enemy-demonising and war-prep than simple satire.
Still can’t really bring myself to care.
It was an interesting story, with a surprising amount to think about, and damn it if I didn’t end up rather liking the Kim Jong-un character, and feeling sorry for him despite his psychosis. He was rather tragic, really, and the bromance that developed between him and Skylark was sort of heartbreaking. It gave a far more complex view of an evil dictator and the wannabe-serious journalist sent to take him down than I had expected.
Plus, Franco was adorable.
There are movies aplenty about assassination attempts of world leaders, both successful and otherwise, US and foreign (adjusting for the massively US-centric skew of popular entertainment). And the CIA are pretty well-known for these sorts of shady shenanigans. It made for an interestingly solid, if still pretty implausible movie.
Most of all, though, it was hilarious.
The humour was low-brow and anatomically-based, slapsticky and of course low-hanging-fruit situational. There were butt jokes, accent jokes, fat jokes, and the obligatory slow-motion drugs-and-booze montage that is the Frogen movie staple. The Lord of the Rings references were hilarious, and just overdone enough – I’d forget about the last one sufficiently to be caught off-guard by the next gratuitous and random mention of the story, and by the last one I was rolling my eyes but still amused, and then they stopped. Perfect pacing.
And yes, the funniest up-the-butt gag since Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Actually, it occurs to me that this isn’t saying much, so I’m just going to go for the gusto. Funniest up-the-butt gag since Evolution. I know those came out in the opposite chronological order, but the whole paragraph falls apart if I rearrange them so this is the way I’m leaving it.
There’s nothing to really complain about in this movie. Okay, there’s a certain amount of cultural meanness that isn’t going to do our global community and our sense of unified humanity much good at all, and its interest in mutual understanding and sensitivity is vestigial at best, and okay, humour is hugely subjective. But if you can’t have a chuckle about a despotic representation of a very-probably-despotic leader being overthrown – overthrown graphically and violently – then this movie isn’t the biggest problem we need to address.
Just my opinion, man.
See it for yourself. Or don’t.