October 9, 2008


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An American Carol (PG-13)
After torturing movie-goers for years with unfunny sequels to worn-out parodies, David Zucker decides to bore us with his political beliefs in An American Carol, an alleged comedy riffing on A Christmas Carol.

Michael Malone (Kevin Farley) is this movie’s iteration of Michael Moore — a fat America-hating, wing-nut-liberal documentarian who whines about his lack of fame when he’s not trying to destroy the country. His current crusade: abolish July 4th. Despite this, his good-natured nephew stops in at the protest headquarters to invite Michael to his backyard family barbecue, the last get-together he’s going to have before shipping out to the Middle East. (Meanwhile, in another part of the movie, al-Qaida members are trying to trick Malone into making their next recruitment video and are planning some kind of terrorist attack.)

To help Malone see the error of his anti-war ways, spirits of Patriotism past visit him, starting with John F. Kennedy (Chriss Anglin) and General Patton (Kelsey Grammer). Along the way, he learns how college professors brain-wash students and how today’s anti-Iraq War protesters are no different from Neville Chamberlain (Oliver Muirhead) in his appeasement of Hitler. Also, how Michael Moore’s, excuse me, Malone’s negative documentaries about America helped cause the attacks of Sept. 11, or so insinuates George Washington (Jon Voight).

For what it’s worth, the majority of Michael Moore’s pre-Sept. 11 shtick was about the downside of globalization and the worsening prospects for the American worker. American workers, like, for example the country music fans who, the movie tells us several times, are examples of the real Americans who live outside of Hollywood and the East Coast. In Roger & Me and even the shaky road show The Big One, Moore took a populist stance not so different in many ways from the trade-suspicious members of the Republican party. But this movie isn’t about that kind of nuance. It’s about the message that you are either With Us or Against Us; that you either support the war or are an unpatriotic appeaser. That dissent is the same thing as treason.

Worse still, though, this movie is narrated by Leslie Nielsen. In addition to another limp Nielsen performance there is lots of Naked-Gun-level humor — boobs, weak slapstick, more boobs. Even the choice of Michael Moore seems dated, so very 2004. And ham-fisted message aside, this by far is the worst sin of this movie, the sin of not being funny. Like Robert Redford’s painful un-dramatic windbag of a movie Lions for Lambs, An American Carol shrilly whines about the “liberals” without any of the actual humor you’d expect from a parody. F

Rated PG-13 for rude and irreverent content, and for language and brief drug material. Directed by David Zucker and written by Zucker, Myrna Sokoloff and Lewis Friedman, An American Carol is an hour and 30 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by Vivendi Entertainment.