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Dustin Putman

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An American Carol  (2008)
Directed by David Zucker.
Cast: Kevin Farley, Kelsey Grammer, Leslie Nielsen, Trace Adkins, Robert Davi, Geoffrey Arend, Serdar Kalsin, Travis Schuldt, Chriss Anglin, Jesse Heiman, Nikki Deloach, Atticus Schaffer, Jenna Vogeler, Vicki Browne, Jon Voight, David Alan Grier, Dennis Hopper, Zachary Levi, Christopher McDonald, Jillian Murray, Gail O'Grady, Anna Osceola, Kevin Sorbo, James Woods, Bill O'Reilly, Paris Hilton, Simon Rex, Gary Coleman.
2008 – 83 minutes
Rated: Rated PG13 (for rude content, and for language and brief drug material).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, October 3, 2008.
In a Hollywood filled will liberal actors and filmmakers, "An American Carol" takes a right-wing approach to its political spoof of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." In doing so, it proves that Republicans can be just as asinine and unfunny in their lampoonery. When once-Democratic director David Zucker (2006's "Scary Movie 4") reportedly switched party lines a few years ago, he also must have gone through a full lobotomy. How else to explain how one of the masters of the slapstick genre—a guy responsible for two of the best comedies of all time, 1980's "Airplane!" and 1988's "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!"—is now no more than a talentless, unambitious hack who wouldn't know the meanings of irreverence and comic timing if they walked up and kicked him in the face?

Documentary filmmaker Michael Malone (Kevin Farley, doing a poor man's imitation of late brother Chris Farley), a thinner-than-tissue-paper guise for Michael Moore, has just returned to America after boating into Cuba to discuss how much better their healthcare plan is (he doesn't notice the local militia slaughtering the "Common People" waiting in line to see the doctor). With his third film, entitled "Die You American Pigs," reaping much acclaim, Malone has next set forth to abolish the 4th of July holiday. Out to turn him around and see the light—read: relish war, torture and guns—notable historical figures, including John F. Kennedy (Chriss Anglin), George S. Patton (Kelsey Grammer), George Washington (Jon Voight), and, uh, Trace Adkins (as himself), visit Malone and take him on a tour of his past and present. By the end, Malone finally believes his homeland is great and recognizes the errors of his ways.

All that this viewer could do, however, is cringe. In one of the last scenes, when country music star Trace Adkins spreads his arms onstage as he looks out at the people in the audience and says, "Welcome to America!," it is one of the most genuinely skin-crawling moments to ever be captured in a spoof movie. For, while it is the liberals of America who receive the brunt of abuse in "An American Carol," it is the conservatives, portrayed as hypocritical, narrow-minded hicks and heathens, that unintentionally look like fools. Happy to blindly follow what is told to them without questioning anything—and welcomingly embracing such a thing—the characters in "An American Carol" go on and on about the importance of upholding the U.S. amendments (there is a lot of talk of free speech) while spending the entirety of the film bashing Michael Malone for his personal value system.

It is not that Michael Malone is correct—he's a bit radical himself—but a stronger message would have been one where he grows to understand the wrongs he's made but still clings to the beliefs that make him who he is. Suggesting that he despises soldiers simply because, as a teen, his date stood him up to go out with a guy in the military, is gross and petty. And, since we're on the subject and director David Zucker makes no bones about who the lead character is based on, why would anyone accuse Michael Moore (the real-life guy) of being against our troops, anyway? This misses the whole point of what Moore is about and ruins any potential to successfully send up Malone's actual character.

Politics aside, "An American Carol" is abysmal, opening with graphic gags involving suicide bombers in Afghanistan, their crispy bodies turned into turkeys and roasted over the burning wreckage of a car. To much dismay, it gets worse from there. There isn't a laugh to be earned in all 83 minutes—not one—and that even covers the scene where Leslie Nielsen (2008's "Superhero Movie"), doing double-duty as a story-spinning grandfather and Osama Bin Laden, chases two scared civilians around with a scythe. Let's just say the weapon gets awfully bloody. Also of note are the climactic deaths of ill and handicapped children on a barge. Is this a comedy or a horror show?

Sure, with the right touch, any subject matter can be turned into something amusing. For example, the little girl in "Airplane!" traveling to get a heart transplant who nearly perishes while the nun and nurse around her get lost in show tunes is hilarious every time one sees it. This clunky, rhythmless, wit-deficient disaster, by comparison, has the wrong touch every step of the way. Indeed, "An American Carol" is so bad that it will almost make stateside viewers want to get a passport and move away immediately. Nonetheless, by the very fact that the camera at least points in the right direction most of the time, it is still a baby step above the monstrosities that are "Disaster Movie," "Meet the Spartans" and "Epic Movie." So much for small favors.
© 2008 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman