Read previous Eats & Entertainment
October 8, 2008
FILM REVIEW: An
American Carol Will Make You Laugh, If You’re Willing
An American Carol
was certainly produced for the amusement of people with conservative
political leanings. To deny that would be silly. And it certainly
succeeds at that particular mission. If you can keep from laughing when
terrorists in Afghanistan truck in a bunch of sombrero-wearing Mexicans
to do “jobs the Taliban won’t do,” you’re either missing your funny bone
or you listen to NPR a lot.
The same goes for a cabal of college professors breaking into a musical
number titled “1968,” in which they taunt horrified parents about how
they intend to reward their hard-earned tuition dollars with four years
of political indoctrination.
The laugh-out-loud moments come fast and furious during the film’s first
half. Sometimes they are uproarious, like when a group of undead zombies
tries to take over a New York courtroom on behalf of the ACLU. Sometimes
they are subtle, like when the main character, left-wing filmmaker
“Michael Malone,” loses control of a Twinkie – only to retrieve it the
following morning when he finds it stuck to his giant flat-screen TV.
yes. It is funny. The challenge in reviewing it is to step outside your
political predilections – for or against, so that goes for both of you,
Messrs. Ebert and Medved – and assess just how good a film it is.
place it in the proper genre, think of the Naked Gun films,
which, like An American Carol, were directed by David Zucker. It
will come as no surprise that Leslie Nielsen shows up here as a
narrating storyteller of sorts. Presumably the entire tale comes from
the loopy mind of a half-asleep grandpa who’s already told the kids the
Scrooge story and needs to come up with a new twist.
he invents Michael Malone (Kevin Farley), an America-hating documentary
filmmaker who is leading a movement to have the Fourth of July
abolished. Why? You have to ask? Because America bludgeons the world,
pollutes the air, whatever. It’s incidental. What’s important is that
Mr. Malone attracts the support of organizations like MooveAlong.org and
Vegans Against Fur, as well as the interest of three terrorists who hope
he will serve as their useful idiot while they plot to destroy Madison
Square Garden during a patriotic rally.
But Malone is visited by three spirits – four if you count JFK – who try
to teach him the true meaning of American patriotism. This is where the
story roughly tracks with Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, although
most of the spirit work falls to Gen. George Patton – hilariously
portrayed by Kelsey Grammer. Also assisting in the spirit work are
George Washington (Jon Voight) and the Angel of Death (Trace Adkins).
The film is heavy on slapstick, with Malone getting whomped in the head
seemingly every 10 seconds or so – with everything from the Liberty Bell
to an anvil thrown by a peace activist when he starts to break down and
admit that maybe we do need to stand up and fight the terrorists. This
is a David Zucker film, after all, so no one should be shocked when
crippled children in hospital beds accidentally fall off boats and
clumsy terrorists blow themselves up before entering the “American
Disco” because they waited until the last minute and got the directions
It’s hard to get good jihadist help these days.
Less effective than the slapstick was the attempt to recreate Dickens’s
“Tiny Tim,” angle – a crippled great nephew named Timmy who is hoping
Uncle Michael will come through with money for a needed surgery, but is
always disappointed because his uncle is self-absorbed and unreliable,
and as we are reminded 50 or 60 times in the film, documentary
filmmakers don’t make real money like their feature-film
The Michael Malone character is, of course, a satire of Michael Moore,
and Farley gives him a bumbling yet jovial enough persona that he comes
across as a guy who is indeed thick-headed (as Gen. Patton observes),
but mainly because he’s just never really thought things through all
that much and finds it easier not to.
is it a good movie or not? Maybe it does depend on your political
predisposition. If you’re capable of finding humor in things that are
funny, even though they may be skewering your side, you should find
plenty to laugh about here. The gags are hilarious. (And of course, if
you lean to the right, it goes without saying that you’ll laugh like
you’re the type who gets offended when your side is getting ribbed,
you’re only going to get mad, and you don’t need that – although if you
really want to get mad, you always could just stay home and watch
Fox News Channel for free.
Three stars (out of
© 2008 North Star Writers
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