"The Interview" probably should have been called "The Honey Pot."
It's a term and idea frequently referenced in the Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg co-directed film, in which Rogen's character explains, "It's an attractive spy woman who lures men into doing shit they're not supposed to do."
At the 10 a.m. Christmas Day screening of "The Interview" at Cinema Village -- the only theater currently showing the film in Manhattan -- it was hard not to feel like audiences had been honey-potted in some respect. In this case, they were lured into showing up with notions of protecting free speech and and the sexiness of sticking it to the hackers who, last week, dared to evoke the memory of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in their threats.
The idea that seeing "The Interview" in theaters was important or even patriotic was only amplified by the scene in and around Cinema Village. Many media members (myself included) pounced on moviegoers as they purchased tickets. Inside, theater manager Lee Peterson introduced the comedy by quoting "My Country, 'Tis of Thee."
"Let freedom ring," Peterson said to the crowd of around 100 people. "No one can tell us what we can or can't see. So enjoy the film."
It's a seductive narrative, mostly because people don't like being told they can't see something --especially by hackers that may or may not be working for a brutal dictatorship in North Korea. It's likely one of the reasons that all of Cinema Village's afternoon screenings are sold out -- even after Sony made the film available to stream online for half the price of a theater ticket.
It's all this buzz surrounding the movie, and Sony's flip flop on releasing the film, that was what brought Jacqueline and Anthony Goodling to the movie theater.
"I wanted to come down here and see all the hype around something," said Anthony Goodling. "But, in reality, it's a movie, and for everyone to blow it out of proportion like they did, I just think it's going to be really good and really funny."
Jacqueline, his wife, added that they didn't have any plans to see "The Interview" before Sony pulled it from theaters last week, but decided to after it became an issue of free speech.
Other theatergoers, such as Karen Shea and her husband, planned to see the film all along, but admitted they came out today due to "curiosity" and due to the "novelty" of Sony briefly pulling it from theaters.
The movie itself is everything you'd expect from a movie starring Seth Rogen and James Franco --dick jokes, fart jokes, celebrity cameos and even the delightful integration of language from the Internet's favorite Deranged Sorority Girl Email. It's not exactly ground-breaking stuff, but audiences are at least now able to make the choice to see those dick and fart jokes for themselves.
"We live in an area where we have freedom of speech, and can see anything as far as movies and media," Jacqueline Goodling said. "And this was shut down for a period of time, just because of the hacking and because of the fear that we had. That's not what we're about."