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An American Carol (A Movie Review)

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

An American Carol

An American Carol


Starring Kevin Farley, Dennis Hopper, Jon Voight, Kelsey Grammer, Leslie Nielsen, Trace Adkins, Jillian Murray, Gary Coleman, David Allan Grier, Gail O’Grady, Robert Davi, Chriss Anglin, Kevin Sorbo, Bill O’Reilly, Paris Hilton and James Woods.

Screenplay by David Zucker and Myrna Sokoloff.

Directed by David Zucker.

Distributed by Vivendi Entertainment.  85 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

The most shocking thing about An American Carol – even more shocking than the fact that the makers actually thought it was remotely funny – is the fact that such counterculture icons as Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider) and Jon Voight (Midnight Cowboy) somewhere along the line turned into Republicans.

An American Carol is billing itself as the world’s first right-wing comedy.  This may be true, although I tend to expect some laughs in my “comedy.”  What is undoubtedly true is that pretty much every Republican in Hollywood – all 157 or so of them – worked on this witless update of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol.  (Good idea, guys.  There aren’t enough updates of A Christmas Carol in the world – I think co-star Kelsey Grammer [Frasier] has made two or three of them himself.)

Okay, I will come clean from the start.  I am not their target audience.  I am a Democrat, or a progressive, or a liberal, or a country-hating commie, or whatever colorful euphemism that the audience for An American Carol will spew my way if they ever bother to read this story.  So let’s take a second to let them get it off their chests: a long angry bellow from Dittoheads about this review being a partisan hatchet job.

However, no matter what you may think, I don’t hate this movie because I disagree with its politics.  I hate this movie because it sucks.  I hate the movie because it is mean-spirited, smug, angry, bullying, amateurish, stupid and not the least bit humorous.  The fact that its political beliefs are also oversimplified and often delusional is just icing on the cake.

I have greatly enjoyed many films and TV shows which were obviously conservative.  I’ve also thought that quite a few left-leaning movies have been awful.  I felt going in that An American Carol had the potential to be fascinating, because it had the opportunity to present a point of view which is normally not shown in the movies.

Still, it seems to me with eight years of Bush sullying the reputation of their party and nearly destroying the country in the process and with McCain running perhaps the most erratic Presidential campaign in history, maybe this is an odd time to come out with a broad farce celebrating the Grand Old Party and mocking that most pathetic of creatures (in their mindset) – the liberal.

The film is the brainchild of David Zucker, who undoubtedly considers himself a recovering Democrat and who many, many years ago collaborated with his brother Jerry to make some of the greatest comedies ever – including Airplane! and The Naked Gun.  Unfortunately, after the brothers broke up their professional partnership (due to David’s political flip-flop perhaps?) it seems like Jerry has kept the talent of the team, making the classic Ghost (though, in fairness, he also made Rat Race), while David has toiled on the laugh-free likes of BASEketball, The Boss’ Daughter and Scary Movie 2, 3 & 4.

The film stars (as much as you could call anyone in this movie a star) Kevin Farley, late comedian Chris’ even less funny brother as “Michael Malone” – an overweight, baseball capped, liberal documentary-maker.  (Hmmm…, subtlety is not in these guys’ bag of tricks…).  For some dumb reason the Moore-alike Hollywood elitist decides he wants to get rid of the 4th of July, causing him to be visited by ghosts (including John F. Kennedy, General George Patton and George Washington) who open a can of good old American whup-ass on him.

In the meantime, the film indulges in a heapin’ helpin’ of man-love towards Ronald Reagan at the same time as taking gratuitous shots at John F. Kennedy, Mussolini (really, is this supposed to be topical?), Jimmy Carter and Rosie O’Donnell.  (Well, okay, maybe Rosie deserves it.)

All of this might be understandable – or at least fair game – in a black comedy.  But then there is a completely unforgivable exploitation of the World Trade Center disaster, a gratuitously cynical manipulation of arguably the most significant disaster in American history.

Zucker may think – as so many of his brethren do – that they have to sell their viewpoints through fear and intimidation.  However, using the destruction of the Twin Towers to make a crass political point – and in a supposed comedy, no less – is seriously much more un-American than anything that the film is trying to blame on the liberals it is skewering.

Exploiting 9/11 for political gain will never work.  Just ask Rudy Giuliani.

There is nothing compassionate about this conservative film.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2008  All rights reserved.  Posted: October 3, 2008.

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