<em>The Interview</em> -- Painfully Bad

It's tempting to try to find something complimentary to say about. Surely any film that draws attention in any manner to the horrors of life in North Korea can't be all bad, right? Unfortunately, even such a film can indeed be all bad.
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It's tempting to try to find something complimentary to say about The Interview. Surely any film that draws attention in any manner to the horrors of life in North Korea can't be all bad, right? Well, unfortunately, even such a film can indeed be all bad, and The Interview amply proves that point.

It's hard to know where to begin in cataloguing the painful parameters of this film, but perhaps its infantile fascination with all things anal would be one place to start. Rectal references occur on the order of once or twice every five minutes, sometimes supplemented with plot devices designed to focus attention on the anal orifice for sustained periods of time.

No movie of this caliber would be complete without copious gratuitous references to genitalia, and to various sex acts, replete with explicit visual depictions of barely-clothed erections, clearly intended for shock value only. Adolescent vulgarity of this variety is probably intended for a mentality on the order of freshmen in a backwater college fraternity, but any other viewer must either abdicate all standards of taste or else wonder why a movie of this kind is successful with a broader audience.

The question remains why a film that traffics in the ultimate in tastelessness and vulgarity tied its ugly tether to the dictatorship in North Korea. One would like to believe that such a connection was animated by some sensitivity to the realities of that regime, rather than callously exploiting those realities for narrow comedic purposes. The Interview, however, goes well out of its way to make sure that no loftier motives can be ascribed to it. North Korea, in this film, is nothing more than a foil for the purpose of introducing ever more lurid scatological and sexual material.

Having introduced the matter of North Korea, however, the film unfortunately does require some attention, if only to disabuse prospective viewers of any hope that it has any redeeming value. Notwithstanding the protections provided by the First Amendment, there is a valid question whether the assassination of any living head of state, no matter how heinous the individual or his regime, is suitable subject matter for a major studio motion picture. If one objects on moral grounds to any such depiction, it's hard to know where to direct one's concern. The Sony Corporation, not to mention the stars and originators of this film, are surely impervious to any objections raised from any quarter, even if Sony withheld release of the film for a few days in order to placate Kim Jung Un himself.

Finally, one can only wonder if there is any limit to the coarsening of culture and public discourse. Seth Rogen and his ilk exhibit a genius in this direction, and no doubt are at work even now to find some way of exceeding their accomplishments of this kind. If our commercial forms of entertainment lavishly reward such endeavors, The Interview represents a mirror in which we can, perhaps, see ourselves. But if, like the winter solstice on which it was released, this film represents the darkest night of our culture, we can at least take solace in the thought that only brighter days must lie ahead.

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