American Carol, An (DVD Review)22 Dec, 2008 By: John Latchem
Box Office $7 million
Rated ‘PG-13’ for rude and irreverent content, and for language and brief drug material.
Stars Kevin Farley, Kelsey Grammer, Trace Adkins, Leslie Nielsen, Dennis Hopper, James Woods, Robert Davi, Jon Voight.
An American Carol should provide a soothing tonic for Republicans still stinging from the election of Barack Obama. Democrats may find it a little less funny, but one of the film’s primary themes is that Liberals take themselves too seriously. In that regard, the film is practically a case study in how differently the two sides see America.
Director David Zucker, who helped popularize the spoof movie with Airplane and The Naked Gun, takes aim at boisterous political correctness with a film that offers some historical perspective but doesn’t delve too deeply into the background of some political positions.
Press accounts of the film have offered it as a conservative alternative to “Hollywood values,” but its ‘PG-13’ rating doesn’t come without its share of gross-out humor and foul language typical of a Zucker film. Think more along the lines of "South Park" or Team America.
Kevin Farley (Chris’ younger brother) does a good job playing Michael Malone, a liberal documentary filmmaker styled after Michael Moore. Malone is following up a documentary love-letter to Cuba with a campaign to ban the Fourth of July on the basis that he feels America should not be celebrating its decadence after causing so much injustice in the world, primarily through military intervention. In a play on A Christmas Carol, Malone is visited by several ghosts who seek to show him the error of his ways. They include John F. Kennedy, Gen. George Patton (Kelsey Grammer) and George Washington (Jon Voight).
The film is very funny at times, with much of the humor stemming from tried-and-true slapstick. The satirical elements, like a string of political cartoons come to life, take a broad jab at what could be referred to as a stereotypical liberal viewpoint. In doing this, the script oversimplifies a number of issues. For example, the War on Terror is discussed in general without dovetailing into the subtleties of the debate over Iraq. Ultimately, the film becomes at its heart a valentine to American troops.
Some of the more partisan gags were left on the cutting room floor, but are available as deleted scenes on the DVD. The most prominent is a scene involving the ghost of JFK greeting Ted Kennedy in a parody of the “Fredo, you broke my heart” scene from The Godfather Part II. Given Ted’s current battle with brain cancer, it’s probably best this scene was left out of the movie.
The disc also includes an amusing commentary in which Zucker, Farley and screenwriter Lewis Friedman joke about test audiences and the fact that no one saw the movie in theaters.
While An American Carol was not a box office hit, but it’s more likely to find its audience on DVD, much like a previous Zucker film, BASEketball.