American Carol

(Top left) KEVIN FARLEY (Michael Malone) and KELSEY GRAMMER (Gen. George Patton) star in AN AMERICAN CAROL.
(Top left) KEVIN FARLEY (Michael Malone) and KELSEY GRAMMER (Gen. George Patton) star in AN AMERICAN CAROL.

Wow. I mean… Wow. Going into the DVD release of this notorious attempt at “conservative” humor, I was expecting something on the order of TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE: some cheap shots at liberals, sure, but backed up with some good satire. There isn’t any reason why conservatives can’t be funny — P.J. O’Rourke and Chris Buckley (and, if you want to tangent over to Libertarianism, Trey Parker and Matt Stone) prove that all the time — and this after all is David Zucker, one of the minds behind AIRPLANE and THE NAKED GUN (and, okay, okay, SCARY MOVIES 3 & 4, which probably should have been warning signals). I hadn’t counted on how deeply Zucker had quaffed from the Kool-Aid.

Jon Voight invoking Washington's image while ignoring his ideals.
Invoking Washington’s image while ignoring his ideals. Jon Voight as the father of our country.

The story — with many side-tracks — has a Michael Moore-like documentary-maker (Kevin Farley) enduring a midnight visitation by the ghost of John Kennedy (Chriss Anglin) and subsequent encounters with three spirits of red-blooded Americanism: George Patton (Kelsey Grammer), George Washington (Jon Voight), and Trace Adkins (uhhhh… yeah). The humor, as the shades try to coax the liberal from his errant ways, doesn’t stray far beyond angry-white-male grousings, and plays oddly like the McCain campaign during its final, desperate death-throes, including such talking points as negotiation is surrender, Iraq is central to the War on Terror, and, everyone’s favorite, Liberals Hate America. (Meanwhile, having Dennis Hopper as a Federal judge proclaim, “We’re defending the Ten Commandments!” demonstrates not only how low Zucker is willing to go to pander to the Christian right, but also how easy it is to declare yourself a patriot if you don’t know anything about the Constitution.)

Dennis Hopper as the kind of Bible-thumping judge the Federal courts need more of. (Do you detect my sarcasm?)
Dennis Hopper as the kind of Bible-thumping judge the Federal courts need more of. (Do you detect my sarcasm?)

My guess is that, unless you’re Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann, your best bet at deriving humor out of AN AMERICAN CAROL is to listen to the audio commentary — where Zucker, Farley, and co-writer Lewis Friedman repeatedly natter on for a few minutes, then lapse into sullen silences as they behold the dog turd they’ve created. Otherwise, you can just enjoy the supreme irony that, with this film having been released theatrically a month before the 2008 election, it had exactly the same effect on the outcome as FAHRENHEIT 9/11 did in 2004. Take that, Michael Moore!

AN AMERICAN CAROL (Vivendi, 2008; 83 mins.) Directed by David Zucker. Cast: Kevin Farley, Kelsey Grammer, Jon Voight, Dennis Hopper.

0 Replies to “American Carol”

  1. I suspect the real motivation behind AMERICAN CAROL was less influencing the election than jump-starting some flagging careers. It works like this:
    1. When audiences stop flocking to your work, write a book or make a movie that embraces the conservative cause.
    2. When audiences remain elusive, hope that Richard Melon Scaife buys a few million copies of your book or DVD, artificially inflating the numbers.
    3. If #2 does not work out, blame the Hollywood-Liberal Conspiracy for somehow (detals do not matter) sabotaging your efforts.

  2. Consider this: According to the audio commentary, they only began shooting after the writer’s strike (Feb, 2008), and were so pressed to wrap on time that they went into the production with an incomplete script (which, if you want to be charitable about it, explains in part the extreme lameness of the finished product). That’s not out and out proof that they were trying to time the release to the election, but it sure suggests it to me.
    Now, whether they actually coordinated with the official campaign is another issue. The swipes they take at their opponents are spookily similar to what was heard in the primaries, the convention, and during McCain’s campaign, but I would rather consider that a coincidence, and just more proof of how out of touch all the Republicans were this time around.

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