Cennamology Chief Editor
The day the release of Sony Pictures' "The Interview" was cancelled, many thought that the chances of the movie ever being seen by the public were very small, leaving the bits and pieces in the trailer as the only parts of the movie that the public would get to see.
Luckily, this turned out not to be the case, as the movie was eventually given a limited release as well as being available for purchase on many video-on-demand services including YouTube and Verizon Fios.
Since the movie stirred up so much controversy and got many influential people in entertainment, politics, and world affairs involved in the situation (including President Obama), I knew I had to check out one of the most talked-about movies of 2014.
Park's performance of Kim Jong-un is the most enjoyable in the movie, and by far the most complex. He is first seen in the movie as being timid and star-struck when first meeting one of his favorite celebrities, talk show host David Skylark (played by Franco). Like a shy boy in the presence of his favorite athlete, Kim Jong-un's first few seconds of screen time are the exact opposite of what you would expect for a movie villain directly based on one of the world's most dangerous men. Instead of an intense shot of a menacing figure, Kim Jong-un's first line in the movie is a stuttered "it's th-the supreme leader" when asked who it is after lightly knocking on Skylark's door.
After that, Park plays all the sides of Kim Jong-un very well, starting off by portraying Kim as an immature 31-year old who likes snorting cocaine, playing basketball, binge drinking, Katy Perry songs, and prostitutes. All these interests he shares with Franco's character, who wants to abort the mission to assassinate Kim after spending a very fun night with him. During his night out with Kim, he finds that he has more in common with the dictator than a love of drugs and hookers - including the feeling that they were big disappointments to their fathers.
Speaking of daddy issues, the movie portrays the dictator's battle with them very well from both a comedic and dramatic standpoint. Franco's character starts to have sympathy for the dictator after discovering that Kim is afraid to drink margaritas, which he loves, because he father was convinced they were "gay."
Later in the movie, Skylark first sees the true character of the North Korean leader when Park effectively shifts from the fun-loving 31-year old margarita enthusiast, to a brutal tyrannical monster who will seek vengeance on any country and leaders that do not take him as seriously as they did his father. This scene happens over a half hour from when Park first appeared on screen, but it comes at the perfect time to ensure that the audience does not get too off guard by Kim's initially non-threatening demeanor.
Park's performance humanizes Kim Jong-un more than most performances of real-life evil characters have. The whole controversy surrounding the film led many to expect the portrayal of Kim Jong-un to be extremely over the top mocking him in every which way possible. The opposite happens. Park's performance starts out as the leader trying to trick the man who is going to interview him that he is a man who is misunderstood by the rest of the world, only to show his true colors as the events of the movie unfold.
Park's performance also delves into the pressures and loneliness of being a "supreme leader," who is viewed as a god by his subjects. The movie handles this topic humorously, with Franco's character asking whether the rumors of the leader not having a butt hole are true (you have to see the movie).
To be honest, "The Interview" is much kinder to Kim Jong-un than South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker were to Kim Jong-il in "Team America: World Police." I would even say that Park's performance is far less satirical than Charlie Chaplin's portrayal of a Hitler-inspired character in "The Great Dictator."
The producers of the movie reportedly cut a lot of scenes over the summer, when the movie was receiving its first round of threats, in order to make the movie more "acceptable" to the North Koreans. If this is true, than it certainly shows because it is very surprising to me that North Korea made a far bigger stink about this than they ever did with "Team America," as Park does not go around singing "Me So Ronery."
Randall Park got the privilege, and the burden, in playing the most controversial role of 2014 and he nailed it. It is a shame that he is not getting more Oscar buzz, but still understandable as the Academy would be terrified of retaliation if they honored a performance mocking North Korea. Nevertheless, this role will certainly propel Randall Park to star status.