An American Carol

Opens this weekend. Here’s part of a review of the movie by Dirty Harry.

Political satire is a tough genre requiring a wire walker at the helm with the talent and maturity to avoid the dual pitfalls of sanctimony and pretension. John Cusack couldn’t do it. War, Inc. was an embarrassment that wallowed in both of those pitfalls and could be a case-study in what not to do. David Zucker, however, not only pulls it off with An American Carol, he does so rather brilliantly.

Yes, I said “brilliant,” and I mean it. Anyone who’s seen Airplane! (1980) or The Naked Gun (1988) knows that Zucker has genius in him, but to transfer that genius so successfully into the Making A Statement department caught me completely by surprise. But first and foremost, An American Carol is absolutely, laugh-out-loud hilarious.

The smartest thing David Zucker did was make a David Zucker film — meaning the jokes hit at a blistering pace and are spectacularly sophomoric and silly. Considering the high success rate of the jokes in the first cut, I can only imagine how much better it all plays now.

Wisely, the film strays a bit from the Dickens’ boilerplate with a subplot involving three Islamic terrorists, led by a hilarious Robert Davi, who want to use Moore’s gullibility about the whole terrorist threat thing to gain access to a crowded event they’ve targeted for a high-profile attack.

Kevin Farley is magnificent as Malone. Because he’s our protagonist, Zucker very smartly makes him a sympathetic figure in many respects. Unlike the real Michael Moore, Malone isn’t hateful, he’s just misguided and a little pathetic. Farley captures this pathos perfectly, allowing us to root for his redemption.

The most impressive and surprising aspect of the film, however, is something I’ve never seen before in a Zucker film: a big, beating, and profoundly affecting heart. As the film progresses and Malone is shown the errors and consequences of his ways the narrative takes on a more serious tone that ends at the wreckage of the World Trade Center where no less than George Washington (The Mighty Jon Voight) explains what it all means. This is no contrived or cheap leap at sentiment. Rather it’s a very real and memorable lump-in-the-throat moment delivered at the hands of a filmmaker who knows what he’s doing.

Here’s a trailer.

This is going to be a good movie, but don’t look for positive reviews from the normal Hollywood critics. It’s a film that makes fun of the left and they won’t like that.

Go see it. Have a laugh. Revel in the high moment that was Sarah last night.

UPDATE:

You want reviews? Here’s a review.

I went into “An American Carol” with guarded expectations. While David Zucher 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 Zucher 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.

There’s more at the link but there are spoilers so be warned.

9 Comments

  1. Really? Is it going to be as good as World Police (which sucked).

    The right wing has already tried comedy… and it bombed badly because no one sees the humor in bringing back slavery and eliminating 100 years of civil rights progress.

  2. You don’t have to worry about reviews from “the normal Hollywood critics.” Apparently it wasn’t shown to critics, which is so often the sign of a *really* good movie.

    For what it’s worth, I thought World Police was more interesting as a spoof of dumb action movies than as political satire.

    It’s true though that right wing comedy is hard to do–especially with the right wing in the state it’s in now. (I think after election day, Palin is going to be seen as more of a problem than a high point, for one thing.)

    But anyway, the reason why it’s hard to do right wing comedy is the same reason–and this comparison is not original to me–it would be hard to picture a Marx Bros. movie with Margret Dumont as the star…

  3. […] An American Carol […]

  4. Patrick and Ben,

    Ten bucks says it does well at the box office. When did the right wing try comedy in a major movie? If you mean World Police, that was not a right-wing movie at all. It skewered both the left and the right and that was why it was funny. Of course a lot of lefties didn’t think it was funny because the left has NO sense of humor when it comes to people making fun of them. In other words they can dish it out but can’t take it.

    “W” and that moronic “Religulous” will both crash and burn, however. I’ll bet another ten bucks on that. They will go the way of all the anti-American, anti-war movies the left has produced the past few years.

    And actually it was shown to a select group of critics. I linked to one in the post. Just not the elitist liberal ones who would have dissed it regardless of how good it was. I did post another review though if you are really interested in what some people think after seeing the movie.

    Like I said, I bet it does well.

    Ben,

    I’m can’t imagine how you see Palin as a potential problem. She is a natural leader whose leadership skills have been proven at the state level. As VP she will learn and only get stronger. And if Barry wins then she can go back and hone her skills for a few years as Governor and then probably as a senator and I have little doubt we will see her as a presidential candidate by 2012. Hillary will be a faint memory.

  5. Your lips to God’s ears, but I still can’t stomach the idea of Barry’s winning. If he does, we may not be living in a republic, anymore, by 2012.

    Anyway, my opinions, reactions and such are outta here for at least a week. On my way to the Dominican Republic. So try to keep the country together, in my absence, okay? :o)

  6. Since the bizarre and illogical undertone of the movie is about how “rugged” and “patriotic” the rightwing is (!) is there any mention of Osama Bin Laden, his attack on the US and the Bush administration’s refusal to go after him? Or is it, as usual with rightwing nager, all their hatred is aimed at the American people and NEVER against Bin Laden or the Saudi royals who funded the 9.11 attacks – and who George W Bush walks hand-in-hand with while showing the world he’s Saudi Arabia/Bin Laden’s bitch?

  7. Oh you know the right wing isn’t patriotic, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden said so. What’s with the lack of humor on the part of you lefties? You don’t mind mocking those who disagree with you, but you can’t abide being mocked.

    Failure to go after Bin Laden? I think you are thinking of Clinton and the chance HE had to get him when he was President. The one he blew?

    As to us going after him, I would say the thousands of troops in Afghanistan are a pretty good sign we are looking for him.

    And, please, does anyone, anywhere NOT think Barry will be the bitch of every other leader in the world? Jimmy Carter redux.

  8. I find it so laughable when it’s said Bush won’t go after Bin Laden. Let’s see, Bush sends troops into Pakastan to do just that…wait for it….wait for it…ahhh the liberal dems scream bloody murder because the warmonger Bush has invaded another helpless country.

  9. […] wife and I went to see An American Carol today. Good flick. Many laugh out loud moments and two or three moments were you heart either […]


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