“An American Carol”: a brief review w/spoilers

| October 3, 2008

[UPDATED 2134 MDT: Uh, corrected David Zucker’s last name. Thanks, Kevin!]

[UPDATED 1604 MDT: Got an Ace-o-lanche going on, with other links coming in — welcome all! Also made a few minor edits.]

The Devil, the proud spirit, cannot endure to be mocked.

— Sir Thomas More

I went into “An American Carol” with guarded expectations. While David Zucker immortalized himself with “Airplane!” (“Joey, have you ever seen a grown man naked?”, “I know how to talk jive.”), “Scary Movie 3” and “Scary Movie 4” were his last two outings. I expected some chuckles, some misses, maybe a few laugh-out-loud moments.

I didn’t expect to be howling with laughter — and often simultaneously wincing — through most of the movie. But I was. As was my wife. As were, as far as I could tell, the rest of the people in the theater.

Hollywood likes to think itself brave and groundbreaking as it makes the 3,932nd consecutive film of the past 40 years portraying (conservative) government, war, the military, intelligence agencies, and/or corporations (often all indistinguishable from one another) as evil. Hollywood is not brave; Hollywood is terribly conservative (in its own sense) and very much in lockstep with itself.

David Zucker is brave. Not just because he gleefully mocks the Left (including Hollywood), but because he gleefully mocks radical Islamic terrorists as well. And he is very politically incorrect in how both the Left and radical Islamists are portrayed. When in the first few minutes of the movie you have suicide bomber jokes — not wry or ironic asides, but Airplane!-style, pushing-the-boundaries-of-taste jokes and pratfalls — you know you’re not in West LA anymore.

The actors who appear in this movie — Kevin Farley (as “Michael Morton”), Kelsey Grammer, Jon Voight, Leslie Nielsen and the rest — are likewise brave, especially in light of actual voiced blacklisting threats towards outspoken conservative actors.

Not all jokes in the film were drop-dead funny, but enough were — and the movie moves fast enough to get by the occasional miss or slow moment — to have kept us entertained throughout. And there was at least one moment (“A lot of dust in here…”) that unexpectedly made me tear up.

The Left, the mainstream media, and Hollywood (but I repeat myself) will absolutely hate this movie. They cheerfully promulgate and perpetuate grossly-distorted depictions and unfair stereotypes of those on the Right (e.g., see the trashing of Sarah Palin), but they cannot endure to be mocked themselves. It is their fatal weakness, the one thing that keeps most clear-thinking people from taking themselves seriously.

And as an old American proverb says: screw ’em if they can’t take a joke. The rest of us should go see the film, repeatedly. I plan to.

Spoilers (such as they are) after the jump.


The film, of course, models itself after “A Christmas Carol”, with a Michael Moore-surrogate (“Michael Malone”, played by Kevin Farley) planning a protest against the 4th of July and being visited first by the digital ghost of JFK and then by three spirits: Gen. Patton (Kelsey Grammer), George Washington (Jon Voight), and “the Angel of Death” (country singer Trace Adkins, who also plays himself). Most of the time is spent with Gen. Patton; the time with Washington and the Angle of Death is quite short, I suspect to hold the running time down.

The subplot is that a group of Islamic jihadists want to hire Malone to produce a new recruiting video for suicide bombers, though they’re pitching it to him as a foreign-financed feature movie. (A running joke throughout the movie is the variety of people and groups dismissing Malone as a director because “he’s only made documentaries”.)

The sequence with George Washington is the shortest and least comedic. Malone meets him in St. Paul’s Chapel in Manhattan, where Washington points out that he (Washington) prayed for guidance in leading the country as President. Malone makes a distainful comment about the dust on everything, wondering why it isn’t better cleaned; Washington opens the doors and shows Malone what St. Paul’s faces — the fresh ruins of the World Trade Center — and explains that the dust there is from the 3000 people who died there.

The scene frankly and unexpectedly moved me. Sandra and I were living in northwest Washington DC on 9/11, just a few miles due north of the Pentagon and about the same distance from the intended target(s) of United Flight 93. I still treat what happened that day with seriousness, even if much of the country (particularly the Left/MSM/H’wood) does not. Our son Jon, a Marine, is in Iraq even as I write this as a direct consequence of the changed world after 9/11; likewise, my nephew, Darren Green (another Marine), will be in Afghanistan by year’s end as a very direct consequence of the 9/11 attacks themselves.

That is the one purely serious moment in the film. What could have been another serious or touching moment — Malone’s nephew, a Navy sailor, shipping out — turns into classic Zucker children-in-peril slapstick, all the funnier for the Tiny-Tim-to-the-nth-power setup earlier in the film.

Oh, did I mention there’s a whole sequence on Malone being a modern slaveholder in a world where Lincoln “negotiated” with the South rather than waging war? Complete with slaves picking cotton and polishing Malone’s car?

As I said: a brave man.  ..bruce w..

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Category: Geopolitics, Information Technology, Main, Movies, Reviews, US Politics

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

Comments (6)

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  1. I laughed I cried and it made me think of how far we have fallen. How the left has nearly destroyed this country. It is very much worth the see!