As a first time director and producer, I have to say Kim Jong Un has potential. What he lacks in believable plot, Kim more than makes up for with casting and marketing.
The story starts off believable, though a little derivative. Evil dictator doesn’t like a Hollywood film called The Interview which shows him in a bad light. He gets a team of unknown hackers to cause havoc. They break into a studio’s servers and release a bunch of personal information which causes quite the stir in Hollywood.
But then, things really go off the rails. (SPOILERS AHEAD). This small dictator whose weapons are well known to be the stuff of B-movies from the 50s and without any viral pull like an ISIS or even an Al Quaeda threatens a coordinated attack in multiplexes all over the territory of the world’s biggest superpower. His new enemies believe the threats and pull the offending movie, even block a replacement movie, Team America: World Police, that mocks the dictator’s father.
If this was a comedy, it could work as a zany farce. The problem is it’s scripted like a drama. At least Un was smart enough to not personally appear onscreen and let his character communicate through other players.
Those players make up quite an impressive list. He’s got Seth Rogen and James Franco to start with, but throw in a supporting cast of Trey Parker, Matt Stone, President Obama, Aaron Sorkin, Anonymous, Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton and just about any major entertainment journalist and blogger you can think of. He’s even got Clooney!
The marketing has been incredible, too. Everyone is talking about it. People are afraid that they’re losing their freedom and vowing to see the movie The Interview however they can. They’re even forgetting that people in North Korea don’t have that much freedom to begin with, which is probably a more important story, but with much less star power.
What’s really amazing is he’s doing this on a shoestring budget. North Korea hardly has internet, who knew they had hackers? It almost makes you think that this production has some serious major studio backing.
Come to think of it, maybe it does. North Korea denies being involved with the hack or the threats. While that could be interpreted as modesty on the part of the director or an attempt to position the failed drama as a mystery for a possible sequel, maybe, just maybe, this is actually a Hollywood production after all.
If it is, and Sony spun a hack by disgruntled ex-workers or some kid in a basement into a story of international censorship that got the leaders of two countries (and Clooney!) talking about a buddy comedy, then this is the greatest publicity stunt in the history of Hollywood. If not, then it remains a very impressive directorial debut for Kim Jong Un.
And since his day job, despotic dictator, brings hardship to almost all the people of his country, I hope he quits it and focuses on what he is good at: playing the Hollywood game.