Film & TV

He Brought Down the Wrong Empire: Seth Rogen's The Interview Won't Show in Theaters

Editor's note: Sony has officially canceled the theatrical release of The Interview following terrorist threats against theaters, and the announcement that several major theater chains had opted not to exhibit the film. The following review was written before Sony pulled The Interview -- and stands as a reminder that world-shaking art is not necessarily great art.

The big selling point of Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen's The Interview is a jaw-dropper: When the producer and the star of a sensationalistic talk show -- played, respectively, by Rogen and James Franco -- get a chance to interview wackbird North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the CIA butts in and persuades them to assassinate him.

Building a comedy around the planned murder of a real-life geopolitical figure is a pretty wild idea, and apparently, the real-life Kim -- he of the cereal-bowl pompadour and Spanky McFarland jawline -- thought so too. In June, after seeing a trailer for the film, North Korean officials called the movie an "act of war" and held the Obama administration responsible for it, threatening a "decisive and merciless countermeasure" if the film were released. In late November, Sony Pictures became the victim of a major computer hack, carried out by a group identifying itself as Guardians of Peace. The North Korean government has denied responsibility, but "Guardians of Peace"? If that doesn't sound like the handiwork of a scary, nuke-happy comic-book regime, I don't know what does.

See also: Our interview with Seth Rogen about The Interview

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Stephanie Zacharek was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism in 2015. Her work appears in other Voice Media Group publications.,