Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. Considering how many of you rant and rail at us that AICN only publishes things by “lefties” and “socialists,” I was shocked how many of you blasted me for running Dr. Hfhurrhurr’s review of AN AMERICAN CAROL. I love that he wrote so passionately about it, and even if I think the film looks terrible (and I do), I still think it’s important to approach the way I approach any movie: with some degree of optimism. Today’s spy is determined to kill that optimism dead, though. He thinks Dr. Hfhurrhurr is insane, and he’s got to have his say. I have a feeling no one’s going to be indifferent to this film. It’s going to make you react, one way or another, and this guy certainly did:
AN AMERICAN CAROL REVIEW by Joe Somebody David Zucker’s AN AMERICAN CAROL made me think, but not about politics. It made me wonder about the difference between parody and satire, as well as the hypocrisy of a filmmaker that once said axe grinding, namely “belaboring an ideological point past the humor of the joke” was a rule never to be broken. AN AMERICAN CAROL breaks the rule for eighty-three minutes. Even with this short running time, the film’s laugh quotient is near zero. I laughed harder at MUNICH, but the failure of CAROL isn't due to proselytizing. It’s just not funny. Mission NOT accomplished yet again. Zucker’s movie, like other parodies, cobbles its plot from a familiar source: Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. There’s been some debate the film draws its inspiration from an old Porky Pig cartoon called OLD GLORY where Uncle Sam gives the little swine a history lesson so he'll learn the pledge of allegiance. The main character of Zucker’s tirade is another famous pig, or at least that’s how he’s shown, an “anti-American filmmaker” named Michael Malone who is played by Kevin Farley, Chris’ surviving brother. Malone is a superficial caricature of Michael Moore. Farley plays him pretty well, except for mugging that’s one of the many blunders of this director. Zucker comments so much on the proceedings, there’s no need for a director’s track on the DVD that’s already scheduled for release on 1/6/2009. Zucker chooses a big target with Moore and misses by a mile. Malone is not an interesting character, just a fat loudmouth that always has a burger or a Big Gulp in his hand. He makes documentaries with on the nose titles like “Die You American Pigs”. Zucker’s “humor” never goes beyond simplistic and broad, not even reaching sophomoric. This is grade school mocking of “the big fat guy”. Satire is supposed to go deep, Parker and Stone inject more nuance into their paper cutouts than Zucker can with live actors, although hiring Leslie “One Foot In The Grave” Nielsen barely qualifies as living. (I will admit I don't love NAKED GUN movies. One of this site’s best reviewers just looked at the original PINK PANTHER movies. If there’s a drinking game about how many jokes GUN stole from Clouseau, you’d get wasted in ten minutes. I liked TOP SECRET better because it was more original.) Zucker goes for the cheap and obvious in every frame and it’s numbing. He could have made a ten-minute You Tube video and hit all the same points instead of this uninspired miscarriage of cinema. One of the major mistakes the film makes is to adopt the same knackered style of humor from decades of sucko parodies, namely dudes getting smacked in the face, kicked in the balls and tired "see it coming a mile away" sight gags. A more appropriate title for this film is AMERICAN MOVIE or MEET THE PATRIOTS because it’s consistent with shitty recent parodies. This is not SHAUN OF THE DEAD. No place is this made clearer than in the casting of Kevin Sorbo, Dennis Hopper, Gary Coleman and James Woods who all show up on their way to the local autograph show. While this is definitely a WAS AM convention, at least Hopper’s send up of the guy he played in LAND OF THE DAD shows somebody with a persona to spoof. The rest look like they took the gig cuz they gotta' eat. The style of ZAZ parody is as outdated as Arsenio Halls’ woofs. It can still work with good writing and if the batting average for jokes is high, but Zucker swings and misses over and over again. Sure, occasional lines are kinda amusing (“The Taliban does jobs Mexicans won’t.”), but he seems more interested in ranting than entertaining. Satire is supposed to tear down hypocrisy and demolish abusers of power, but this is a movie version of the The ½ Fox News Hour. It’s a bunch of rich and arrogant people making fun of free speech, dissenting opinions, minorities and being middle class. That’s not to say it couldn't have somehow worked, but Zucker is a poor marksman and his shotgun approach winds up shooting himself instead of making a point. A joke about a slave named Barack comes off racist, while Mel Brooks was able to hit the target in BLAZING SADDLES and bitch slap bigots with no backtalk. And yeah, there’s lots of slapping of in this film. The worst comes from asshat Bill O’Reilly who smacks Malone around and is depicted reverently by Zucker. Had he shown true satirical chops, Zucker would have made O’Reilly somehow parody himself and not realize it. Here, he’s a figure to be worshipped instead of whipped. David Zucker hasn't had his mojo for a long time. The torch wasn't passed, it was fumbled and BORAT and HAROLD AND KUMAR and HOT FUZZ picked it up and ran with it. Those films are more subversive than this conservative crapfest pretending to be the shit. The comedy here is about as edgy as a Comedy Central roast of Gallagher. Zucker also equates criticism of America, the desire to see the country improve or discuss its mistakes, as heresy. He depicts disagreement as unpatriotic. Malone is bratty, so it’s impossible to get invested in his journey that has a predictable outcome thanks to the source material and the lack of creativity of the whole film. For reasons that aren't worth recounting from such a risible plot, Malone champions a self-aggrandizing attempt to abolish the 4th of July. Viewed as undermining his own country by terrorists, he becomes the not entirely unwitting pawn of a fanatic named Azis. Robert Davi plays this character for real and gives the film’s best performance. He’s badass and scary and shows real comic timing. His deadly serious attitude enlivens the staleness of the jokes. Davi reminded me of how early parodies utilized straight actors playing ricockulous for real, as opposed to The Big Nielsowski who lost his mad skill after a few outings. Nielsen fancied himself a comedian and switched from deadpan to canned ham. Amazing he’s still alive while Heather Ledger and Bernie Mac ain't. Predictably, since Zucker is following Dickens’ playbook, Malone gets visited by apparitions that send him on a triptych to learn the error of his ways. The spirit of John F. Kennedy appears first and is played by some guy named Chriss Anglin. This is not a good impersonation. He doesn’t look or sound just like JFK, Bruce Greenwood nailed that in another flick, and when he calls Malone a “douche bag” it isn't funny, just weird. Not a single laugh the whole sequence. The other guides through history are General Patton, played by a real miscast Kelsey Grammar with all the macho of Keri Russell and Jon Voight as George Washington. Voight plays the role with Keifer gravitas and participates in an over the top sequence where he lectures Malone while standing on ground zero, accusing the filmmaker’s bad 'tudes of provoking 9/11. WTF? Liberals are demonized in this film, as Zucker takes complex issues that involve shades of gray and distills them into black and white, right wing and wrong. You watch this film and seriously wonder about the filmmaker’s IQ. Forget what side you're on, the angry voice in this movie conveys as much smarts as a shovel. Even when it tries to make a good point about the outcome of WW2 had America lost, the jokes are as dumb as JOE DIRT. One might argue the founding fathers were the liberals of their day and if Zucker had shown more level-headedness, he might have depicted George Washington lecturing both the left and right to stop weakening the Divided States of America and band together. Instead, we get partisan rhetoric that blames everything on leftists and claims war is the right answer every time and no matter what must never be questioned. You know, it's easy to be pro-war when you're a rich Hollywood dude in your sixties that doesn't have to worry about the paying rent or military service. Man, how kickass is that? I’ve read interviews where Zucker claims he became a Republican after 9/11. He’s also complained about the higher taxes he pays under Democrats. (Jimmy Carter is shown saying: “Higher taxes are good for you!” ROFL!) At the end of the day, Zucker comes off as an old nerd, a male cheerleader sidling up to the jocks for attention he can't get elsewhere on the campus of Hollywood High. How else would the director of “Baseketball” and “Scary Movie 3 & 4” get invited on a news show to discuss politics? That’s like asking Carrot Top to talk about global warming. Zucker’s depictions of testosterone fueled jingoism are more laughable than comedic. He’s a wanksta. Jokes here bomb leftist and right, but the film really takes a big plop when country star Trace Atkins appears as the final “Angel of Death”. What Atkins represents is the kiss of death for acting, culminating in an attempt at rabble rousing through a badly shot concert scene and lame ass song. Malone is converted, enlightened to all that’s made America great. We get an ending with all the political impact of SCROOGED and yet another tired Zucker sight gag as the closer. David Zucker has said many times that if AN AMERICAN CAROL doesn't do well, his career is over. His career, without Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrams to help his ass, ended with MY BOSS’ DAUGHTER forcing him to suck off the Wayans to get movies made. AN AMERICAN CAROL like this year’s other bad shitfest THE LOVE GURU is a bomb, but way more fascinating to watch. Visually crude, it plays like TOS MIRROR, MIRROR version of Uwe Boll’s POSTAL, with Boll showing more balls and better comic timing. That’s a statement I never thought I'd say, but Boll took no prisoners and made fun of himself. Zucker says with a straight face that he’s smarter than us and Big Brother Knows Best. Satire has been defined as using humor to ridicule stupidity. AN AMERICAN CAROL proves David Zucker isn't a satirist. He’s just really stupid.