Sony Pictures Whodunit

Here’s the plot. Seth Rogen is the reigning king of puerile comedies. His stock in trade is playing loud, stoned, bumbling, slacker idiots who get involved in things not normally considered remotely funny — pornography, out of wedlock pregnancy, the drug trade, the apocalypse.

Often in the process he gets to rub up against women way out of his league — Katherine Heigl, Elizabeth Banks, Rose Byrne –and makes millions doing it. From his point of view, what’s not to like?

Unfortunately, something happened on the way to his latest payday. “The Interview,” once scheduled for worldwide release on Christmas Day, concerns a brainless TV news crew that snags an interview with a dictator we will call Klam Juice One, head of an Asian country we’ll call North Dystopia. Learning of the interview, the CIA recruits our idiot heroes to assassinate Klam Juice One.

The names have been changed to protect, well, me. That’s because the leading theory about what happened next is that the real Klam Juice One wasn’t amused and decided to rain fire on anyone laughing at him. That will require a lot of fire, but it does suggest Rogen should have used a nom de comedie for his villain. He was presumably smart enough not to make a comedy about killing the head of ISIS or the Grand Ayatollah. Perhaps he felt it was safer, funnier and easier to fool with the already widely mocked head of North Dystopia.

Klam Juice One may not be behind the ensuing mess, but we do know that a group styling itself “Guardians of Peace” hacked the Sony studio about to release “The Interview” and leaked a gazillion documents. The hacked treasure trove included embarrassing emails in which executives said unflattering things about movie stars and the President of the United States, people they usually fawn over. Also exposed were scripts for forthcoming movies, financial records including executive salaries and lots of other corporate dirty laundry.

The Guardians of Peace said they were screwing Sony because “The Interview” is mean to Klam Juice One. They even threatened to do a 9/11 on anybody who went to see it. This freaked out Homeland Security and theater owners and their liability lawyers. So Sony cancelled the release. “The Interview” will not be seen on Christmas Day or maybe ever.

Clearly someone can’t take a joke and suspicion has centered on Klam Juice One since the joke concerns his assassination at the behest of the CIA and because it wouldn’t be the first time North Dystopia has made mischief. But before we hastily close the book, there are several other possible villains who have been overlooked.

If it were Klam Juice One, would he go after Sony? Why not return the favor and target Rogen personally? Or is it possible there is some fellow feeling because Klam is a movie buff who once kidnapped a movie director he admired. And because Klam and Rogen also share similarly hideous hairstyles.

But if not Klam, who? Well, who would gain by Sony’s discomfiture? They now look likely to lose upwards of $75 million on “The Interview” and will have to mend fences with half the talent in Hollywood who their emails insulted. So how about the competitors of Sony?

The crowded Christmas movie calendar just got less crowded. So maybe more people will buy tickets to Universal’s “Unbroken, Disney’s “Into the Woods,” Paramount’s “The Gambler.” Weinstein’s “Big Eyes,” or 20th Century’s “Night at the Museum; Chapter 86.”

It isn’t hard to imagine such notorious handballers as Harvey Weinstein, Disney’s Bob Iger, or Fox’s Rupert Murdock raining down death and destruction on a competitor like Sony, nor their hiding behind a fictitious villain like the Guardians of Peace who are in their turn a front for Klam Juice One. In fact, they probably have got treatments for a thriller with just such a convoluted plot waiting on their desks for approval.

But there’s yet another obvious suspect that no one has mentioned. The FBI and CIA have now said that all signs point to Klam Juice One, but there are two butts of the joke in “the Interview.” The first is the North Dystopian dictator but another is the idiots who want him dead and put doofus newsmen up to it. That’s right, none other than the CIA itself. The same folks who are pointing the finger at Klam Juice are also mocked in the movie.

The spooks are notorious for having as little sense of humor about themselves as most petty tyrants. They and their NSA and FBI friends certainly have more technical capability to carry out an elaborate hack than North Dystopia. And messing with Sony would be a sort of three rail billiard shot. It would wipe the grin off the faces of those Hollywood clowns who have made the CIA, the FBI and NSA the villains in countless movies for decades. And pinning the stunt on North Dystopia would also make it a bigger bogeyman than ever. And the more scary foreigners, the bigger the CIA’s budget. Everybody wins.

If nothing else, it would make a good movie plot for next Christmas.

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