Fairfield Citizen film critic Susan Granger reviews the new movie, "The Interview:"

Despite cyber-warfare against Sony and terrorist threats from North Korea, this controversial James Franco/Seth Rogen black comedy opened Christmas Day in 331 independent theaters and earned more than $1 million. It was also available for rent or purchase by video on demand.

That's just the legal side. According to web calculations, it was pirated in digital format more than 200,000 times in the first 10 hours. After 20 hours, the illegal downloads topped 750,000 -- mainly overseas, since Sony did no worldwide release.

So what's it all about? Sleazy TV interviewer Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his buddy, producer Aaron Rappaport (Seth Rogen), are tabloid journalists who specialize in celebrity interviews. When these mega-morons learn that North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Un (Randall Park) is a fan of the show, they arrange an interview.

"This will be as big as Frosty Nixon," Dave enthuses.

That's when they're recruited by manipulative CIA Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) to use their visit to Pyongyang as an opportunity to assassinate the notoriously humorless 31 year-old Supreme Leader.

Rogen, who directed along with Evan Goldberg, is the straight man, while Franco overdoes his caricature of a dimwit TV host who is far more concerned with popularity than credibility.

Korean-American comedian Park (HBO's "Veep") is audacious as the North Korean despot, and also will have his own show debuting in 2015. And Diana Bang scores as Sook, Kim's duplicitous communications officer.

Opening with a sweet little North Korean girl singing about launching nuclear war against the United States, the raunchy, obviously collaborative screenplay was written by Dan Sterling ("The Daily Show," "The Office," "Girls"). It's a provocative premise that's never developed, so the farce fizzles.

Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" (1940), Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" (2009) and the creators of "South Park" have done political satire far better.

Bottom line: Despite innumerable "Lord of the Rings" references, repetitive poop/potty jokes prevail, as the absurd slob-comedy fails to live up to its hype.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Interview" is a silly, sloppy, sophomoric 4. To paraphrase Shakespeare, it's much ado about very little.

- For more about movies and theater, check the website: www.susangranger.com.