Exclusive: Movie Review – ‘An American Carol’

by PAM MEISTER October 6, 2008

"Why should I celebrate a country that's caused oppression and terror all over the world?"

These are the words of Michael Malone, the fictitious director lampooned in An American Carol, which opened up this past weekend, coming in (as of this writing) seventh overall at the box office for the weekend. With a number of big-name stars and some surprising cameo appearances, it's an enjoyable afternoon or evening out at the movies geared toward pride in country harbored by more Americans than one would think based on the usual cinematic offerings from Tinseltown.

If you've seen Airplane! and the Naked Gun series, you know what kind of film you're in for - full of the slapstick, corny jokes and foul-mouthed kids that comic film veteran director David Zucker is well-known for. And if that kind of humor isn't your cup of tea, you may want to pass this up. But bear in mind, there's a lot more to An American Carol than first meets the eye. The movie borrows heavily from the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, but brings to it not only the patriotic flavor that has largely been missing from Hollywood fare since the 1960s, but also straight talk about the dangers posed by radical Islam that many Americans either don't wish to face or believe are blown out of proportion by those trying to sound the alarm - as if 9/11 wasn't alarm enough.

Michael Malone, played brilliantly by Kevin Farley, is a fast talking, big eating movie maker who has built his career on America-bashing movies such as Die You American Pigs. (Remind you of anyone?) Yet despite winning an Oscar and the Leni Riefenstahl award from Moovealong.org for his work, Malone longs to create a feature film that will bring him the real respect of Hollywood and the movie-going public he craves. He has in mind a "powerful drama about oppressed people adrift in a world gone mad. It's anti-everything America stands for without technically being anti-American." But for some reason, Malone is finding it difficult to get backers for his feature.

Enter a group of bumbling Islamist terrorists led by Aziz, played by veteran movie bad guy Robert Davi. Looking for someone to direct a more convincing version of their suicide bomber recruiting video, Aziz and his henchmen turn to Malone, offering him the money he needs to get his feature film off the ground.

Meanwhile, Malone is planning an "Abolish July 4th" rally. In the midst of his planning, his nephew Josh, a Navy officer, is headed for the Persian Gulf. "Can't you get out of it?" Malone wants to know. And so Malone continues on his merry path of America-bashing until his hero, John F. Kennedy, speaks to him à la Jacob Marley. Malone is then visited by three spirits: General George S. Patton (Kelsey Grammer), George Washington (John Voight) and the Angel of Death (country singer Trace Adkins). Between the three of them, we see why Malone turns out to be a bitter, military-hating man, how life would have turned out had Abraham Lincoln sat down and signed an agreement with the South rather than fight the Civil War, and how people will feel about Malone after his death (a rather large pair of buttocks play a big part in this scene).

Amidst all of the laugh-inducing moments - and there are many of them - there are a few sober ones as well, such as the aftermath of 9/11 at Ground Zero. New York Post reviewer Lou Lumenick (who panned the film) called it "a spectacularly tasteless scene...which I don't think was intentionally supposed to be funny." No, it wasn't supposed to be funny. Nor was it tasteless. It was a sober and poignant reminder of what happened on that day that, unfortunately, too many people have relegated to the past and refuse to believe could ever happen again as long as we, as Malone's character suggests, just sit down and talk with the enemy and stop whatever it is we must be doing to aggravate al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

That's just one of several points in the film that aren't meant to be funny, but touch on the pride that many Americans feel about their country.

Zucker manages to skewer many sacred cows of the Left, including higher education (Columbia University in particular in an amusing musical scene), the ACLU, the anti-war movement (a demonstration is described by one character as "students showing how much they don't know by repeating it loudly"), baby boomers and the 1960s, and gun control, just to name a few. And he does it with the help of stars such as Farley, Grammer, Voight, and Davi, along with James Woods, Dennis Hopper, David Alan Grier and others who came out of the "conservative closet" and even possibly put their careers in jeopardy in Left-thinking Hollywood.

Acquaintances I met outside the theater said they really appreciated the meaning contained in the film, and that they wish there were more films with its positive message about America. Preaching to the choir? Perhaps. But conservatives who complain that there aren't enough films out there that cater to their tastes should not complain if An American Carol doesn't do well because they couldn't be bothered to get out to see it.

Running time: 82 minutes. Rated PG-13 (rude humor).

Pam Meister is the editor of FamilySecurityMatters.org.

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