Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Film Review--An American Carol

An American Carol
directed by David Zucker
written by David Zucker, Myrna Sokoloff, Lewis Friedman
starring Kevin P. Farley, Trace Adkins, Kelsey Grammer, Dennis Hopper, Bill O’ Reilly, Jon Voight, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Davi, Fred Travalena, Serdar Kalsin, Geoffrey Arend

Yes, I held out so much promise for this most rare cinematic experience. I longed to be zinged with creative, subtle humor that jabbed a fork in the underbelly of the liberal media establishment. I wanted to see them eviscerated and have their entrails fed to starving Somalian children high on prescription grade crack cocaine. Instead, I got bonked over the head time and again with tired, obvious jokes that were not related to anything funny whatsoever. In short its an embarrassment and a terrible disappointment. All I have to say is that if Zucker is or was the king of American satire he has fallen very far off his horse and is now being dragged to a concentration camp for reassessment.

First, it’s been long suggested that Hollywood is a haven for lefties and their various lefty causes. That’s nothing new. The opinion of Michael Moore on the right ranges from Communist to Socialist and he is considered to be a bloated blowhard who is consistently light on facts in his documentaries. In that spirit we have Michael Malone (Farley), who certainly has the same girth as Mr. Moore, who is also a documentary film maker who makes blatantly Anti-American films with titles so ridiculous one just imagines the film maker’s sweating profusely to come up with them. So, Malone spouts off all the typical tropes regarding abortion, guns, gays, and everything else liberals are known to soak their pink striped panties over. None of it is original or fun or remotely funny. I mean, who would have thunk it that the teachers at Columbia University are a bunch of radical leftists who have butchered their curriculum by stripping it of the tenets that used to form the foundation of Western thought? And do we have to see it all in a glaring song and dance number that says emphatically that nothing has changed for them since 1968?

This film is just a series of hysterical plot devices designed merely to instill the same old tired cliches about liberals in a gross and blind manner that lacks style or nuance. Malone harps against all the usual suspects and his tired rants devolve into meandering and misguided broadsides that lack power, substance, or meaning. In other words, he is the mouthpiece of all those fears that stimulate and surprise conservatives who like to imagine that they alone have their thumb on the pulse of the American People. It’s clear this film is supposed to celebrate a particular America that worships the military and gleefully sends their sons and daughters to die in the guise of serving their country. Antiwar means anti America in this film and Malone and his followers are portrayed as weak, dangerous, and hopelessly out of touch with the thinking of the nation.

Malone is hired by a couple of jihadists to make their new recruitment video because he’s a big named Hollywood director despite the fact that he makes documentaries. Indeed, there are at least a dozen jabs against documentaries suggesting they aren’t as important as feature length films. It’s ostensibly meant to minimize the creative output of Michael Moore but it just comes off as lame and poorly constructed. It’s a shame this film couldn’t have been sharper, more subtle, more clever. It wants to be divisive, to paint a clear picture of the enemy but it just fails to do anything but make the audience cringe. Still there are moments that stand out for no other reason than the acting involved. John F. Kennedy (Chriss Anglin) comes out of the television during his inaugural speech to chastise Malone and remind him that he supported a strong military and stood ready to intervene should circumstances call for it. This scene says quite a lot about what’s at stake here in this dialog between hardline military first conservatives and radical leftists who deplore all war and would see all troops removed from their posts worldwide. The inclusion of General George S. Patton (Grammer) as a bastion of the war mentality and the finer points of battle is somewhat inspired. The juxtaposition of Malone and his flabby arms and cowardly sensibilities with the totemic presence of Patton is telling. America in this context is truly a land of strength and brutality.

This film implies that liberals are anti-Christianity amongst all of their other many sins. Malone seems to roll his eyes whenever God is invoked and a character called Rosie O’Connell (Vicki Browne) creates a hostile video equating Christians with radical fundamentalist Muslim terrorists.

Terrorism is played both for fear and laughs. The terrorists are silly little men who do silly little dances. In liberal America they would own Hollywood and keep the structure but change all the signs. As Malone is carted around by the Spirit of Patton he is shown a warped alternative universe where he owns a plantation replete with slaves because Lincoln checked out of the war and subsequently did not afford the slaves their freedom. Neville Chamberlain capitulates to Hitler in 1938 and winds up on his knees shining the Fuhrer’s shoes whereupon Hitler sings Kumbaya. The message here is that without war there is no hope of freedom. The spirit of George Washington (Voight) further cements this point for Malone. Malone is just a soft-bellied pacifist who cannot identify with the hardness of military might. His followers merely make chants out of his words without actually taking the time to listen to his words. This is very much like his selective listening to the words of John F. Kennedy. He merely heard what he wanted to hear and took it from there.

Despite everything a certain giddiness is wrought by the sight of Dennis Hopper as a Judge shooting down ACLU zombies. There is just something clearly defined and naturally amusing about such a scene. Especially when the Judge tosses Malone a shotgun and says “use it, it’s fun.” This truly is what’s at the heart of the gun issue. Liberals such as Malone are afraid of having too much fun and guns are a tremendous amount of fun to shoot, pose with, etc.

The film is an awakening of sorts because it’s just wrong to challenge American supremacy and much more worthy of citizens to fall in line with what the six packs of the world are spouting off to their children when they aren’t taking a belt to their chapped and blistered backsides. This is America and we show our patriotism by cheering whenever our soldiers go off and kill something foreign. America means war and without it we’d all be vassals of some foreign power and forced to do their bidding. It’s essentially a recruitment film for the military and everything it ostensibly stands for. It’s a fear-mongering diatribe against extreme factions of the left wing.

Overall, this film fails to elicit laughter for the greater portion of its duration. It just isn’t intelligent enough and takes the easy way out nearly every time it has a chance to pull off something miraculous. It’s such an ambitious project and certainly a worthy subject for a feature but everything falls hopelessly flat in the attempt. It’s difficult to gage just what makes this film’s message different from countless others. Every great war film celebrates the carnage in the same way and brings home a message of patriotism and peace to the great citizens of the nation. This film has an defined agenda and seems interested in instilling it into the heads of its audience members. It lacerates liberals but does so rather softly in the end. It attacks them on basic points that are instantly observable in much of the right’s firm rhetoric for the past thirty odd years. Nothing here is novel and the characters quickly start to grate on the nerves after but a short while. There are a few moments of inspiration but they do nothing to make up for the paucity of ideas that plague the rest of the film.

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