1 Star — Demeaning

For all the hype The Interview has generated due to its storyline about trying to kill the leader of North Korea, its biggest offense is that it killed two hours of time that could have been used for something useful. This is adolescent humor at its lowest level. It reminds us of 13-year-old boys laughing at jokes about nonsense.

Written, directed and starring Seth Rogen, a comedian often described as an unkempt man-child, he plays the part of Aaron Rapaport, the news director to Dave Skylark (James Franco), a dithering emotional midget who is best known for silly television interviews with B-grade movie actors. When they find out that the president of North Korea is a fan of their show, they score an interview with “the leader” as he is affectionately known.

The core of the story is that the American CIA presses Skylark and Rapaport into a plot to use the interview with “the leader” as an opportunity to murder him and remove him as a threat to the U.S. What happens along the way is hardly worth repeating, but needless to say there is a lot of silly attempts at making us laugh, a lot of sex, lots of murder and a growing weariness of having to watch such drivel.

There have been many comedies written using the questionable leaders of counties as the foil for laughter, such as the 1940 film The Great Dictator written by and starring Charlie Chaplin. Most of these films made their point by exaggerating the bad political or social behaviors of people like Adolf Hitler. In The Interview, like many Rogen films, the focus of attention is more on the bad personal behavior of the lead actors: smoking dope, drinking and having sex, or at least talking about it incessantly.

It is certainly a commentary on our times that a company, in this case Sony Studios, would waste millions of dollars on this kind of bathroom humor. It is equally a commentary on our times that so many people went to see this film as a statement of “standing up for America and freedom of expression.” It just reminds me of the old adage attributed to P.T. Barnum that “there is a sucker born every minute.”


» The notoriety of The Interview came from the response of North Korea. If you were a nation’s leader and someone made an adolescent comedy about killing you, how would you respond?

» The genre of film created by such artists as Seth Rogen appeal to many people. Why do you think this is true? Why do you think it does not appeal to the Cinema in Focus authors?

» If you saw the film, was it out of interest in the work of Rogen or because of the controversy?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.