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Zucker Pokes Fun at Political Culture in 'American Carol'

An American Carol

By John Latchem | Posted: 16 Nov 2008

Political satire, especially during an election year, has become an American tradition. This fact is not lost on the filmmakers behind An American Carol, which lampoons contemporary American political culture.

Vivendi Entertainment releases An American Carol on DVD Dec. 30 at $26.99.

The film was directed by David Zucker, who helped pioneer the spoof genre with such films as Airplane!, The Naked Gun, Top Secret and BASEketball.

“I always try to find comedic situations that haven’t been worked over,” Zucker said.

An American Carol pokes fun at what Zucker calls the excesses and outrage of people with fringe political beliefs who take themselves too seriously.

Kevin Farley (brother of late comedian Chris Farley) plays documentary filmmaker Michael Malone, a parody of Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore. Malone begins a campaign to ban the Fourth of July, and is visited by the spirits of three historical figures who teach him the meaning of American values. Jon Voight plays George Washington, Kelsey Grammer plays Gen. George Patton, and Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly plays himself. The movie also stars Trace Adkins, Leslie Nielsen, Dennis Hopper, James Woods and Robert Davi.

Because of the film’s subject matter, and a cast loaded with Hollywood Republicans, Zucker said the media over-emphasized the political nature of the movie.

“It came out a month-and-a-half before the election,” Zucker said. “When someone says something is political you think of a dry polemic-like lecture. We make political points but we decided not to do political humor unless it’s clouded in a joke.”

The director said he has gotten good feedback from viewers both on the left and the right.

“Most of my friends are Democrats, Zucker said. “I tested the movie on them. They told me when the movie was going too far one way or the other.”

The end result, Zucker said, was a movie that turned out to be “very mainstream.” Zucker describes the political tone as more akin to Team America or "South Park," but less raunchy.

“It’s ‘PG-13,’ so a 10-year-old could probably handle the material,” Zucker said.

The film enjoyed a limited box office run and was the No. 3 new movie its opening weekend.

“It was the most crowded weekend in two years,” Zucker said. “Who could have predicted a movie about a talking Chihuahua would swarm everything else?”

As a result, Zucker is hoping the movie really catches on with home video audiences.

“I think a lot of people are going to find it on DVD, like Top Secret or BASEketball,” Zucker said. “Those movies didn’t set the box office on fire but have risen in popular esteem.”

The DVD includes director’s commentary, interviews with the director and cast, and deleted scenes.

Zucker said many scenes were cut from the film because test audiences didn’t find them funny enough, but the DVD still contains a few nuggets.

“We do a dance number that’s still in the movie, but it’s a shortened version,” Zucker said. “[Patton takes Malone] to a college, and the professors break into a musical number called ‘1968.’ [What got cut was] Kelsey and Kevin do a soft-show routine. It’s just so charming. I’m glad to see it on the DVD.”

Zucker said he is in the process of writing a family movie.

“It’s not a spoof, but a ‘PG’ movie kids could see,” Zucker said. “And there’s not a single talking Chihuahua in it.”


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