Okay, first of all, there’s no foolin here. You and I both know there was no way in hell I was gonna like David Zucker’s right wing satire about how liberals hate America and Michael Moore stuffs his face with food all the time. So this is not a review, this is more like a report for other people who, like me, were curious as hell what this movie was like, but unlike me could not stomach sitting down and watching the whole thing.
Chris Farley’s brother plays Michael Moore (they call him Michael Malone), the famous documentarian (his movie is called DIE YOU AMERICAN PIGS), who is hired by 3 Arab terrorists (Robert Davi, two others) to direct a movie, but also to help them get into a Trace Adkins concert so they can blow themselves up, or something like that. But also Michael Moore is planning an anti-4th of July protest, so the ghost of Patton brings him around Dickens-style to show him how the world would be different if America didn’t believe in war, for example Gary Coleman would be his slave and Detroit would be nuked. Obviously.
The difficulty in understanding the Russian is that we do not take cognizance of the fact that he is not a European, but an Asiatic, and therefore thinks deviously. We can no more understand a Russian than a Chinese or a Japanese, and from what I have seen of them, I have no particular desire to understand them except to ascertain how much lead or iron it takes to kill them. In addition to his other amiable characteristics, the Russian has no regard for human life and they are all out sons-of-bitches, barbarians, and chronic drunks.”
– George S. Patton
This brings up a few questions:
#1. You seriously want General Patton as your voice of reason? Are you sure you guys thought that one through very much before making the movie?
#2. Isn’t it kind of sad that the manliest actor willing to play Patton in this piece of shit was fucking Kelsey Grammer from Frasier? (To be fair I guess this does support Zucker’s claim in interviews about there not being enough conservatives in Hollywood.)
(On the other hand, it can’t be that bad, you got Robert fucking Davi in this thing. That’s a major coup, man. Chin up.)
#3. Why the hell would Michael Moore protest the 4th of July? You guys really thought that made sense? The movie’s explanation is that he’s “against the troops,” which makes me wonder if they’re thinking of Veteran’s Day. At no point do the filmatists appear to know that Independence Day is about the anniversary of our nation’s independence. I’m a liberal so obviously I don’t have as much money as Zucker, but I would bet him that Michael Moore not only celebrates the 4th of July, but that he fucking knows what it is, you god damn morons.
#4. What’s up with this concept of liberals being against WWII and the civil war? For a guy supposedly surrounded by liberals you sure have some weird ideas about what they would be like if you theoretically ever saw one close up. This movie is convinced liberals love Nazis. It even has a scene where “Movealong.org” praises Leni Riefenstahl in introducing an award named after her. If Zucker ever meets any real life liberals he will learn they only ever mention Riefenstahl when calling movies like his propaganda.
By the way, you know who actually was kind of soft on Nazis? Your boy Patton. After the war he was against denazification and compared post-war Nazis to a political party that lost an election. Look it up, Zucker.
A WORD ABOUT REVIEWING THIS MOVIE. Some of my colleagues tip-toed around and tried to be “fair” and “objective” about it, trying to separate it from its politics and then also being extra nice about its lack of artistry so as not to appear biased. I say fuck that. If you make a stupid point you should have the balls to face a rebuttal. Maybe if it was a great movie and I disagreed with the politics (see DIRTY HARRY) and because of that I didn’t give enough credit to the technical skills of the filmmakers, maybe that would be unfair. But that simply ain’t the case. The only thing more poorly executed than the political arguments in AN AMERICAN CAROL are the fucking “jokes.” This is a terrible, unfunny and badly made movie that would not be worth discussing if not for the novelty of the bizarrely out of touch right wing slant. Even a great right wing actor – like, you know, a Robert Davi – would have a hard time making it seem like he was laughing much at this thing. The only reason for its existence is the politics – you cannot tell me that without the right wing comedy gimmick it would’ve gotten projected onto actual theater screens. I don’t think it would’ve even gotten a promotional slide shown in a theater.
Besides, politics are one thing that makes me interested in movies. I wouldn’t be so in love with THEY LIVE if I tried to ignore politics. Shit, if I tried that I probaly never would’ve written Seagalogy, because it was the surprising politics of ON DEADLY GROUND that initially got me hooked on Seagal. So, sorry guys, politics are on the table.
Zucker’s most telling cheat is ignoring Iraq, pretending he never heard of it. Most of the movie’s targets – Michael Moore, Moveon.org, George Clooney, peace protests, “anti-American” college professors – had to have come to Zucker’s attention by opposing the war in Iraq. But what’s he gonna do, say they were wrong? Instead he pretends to think they are against ALL wars throughout history, that they wouldn’t have wanted to fight Hitler, that they don’t want to fight terrorists. The Michael Moore character’s catch phrase is “there is no terrorist threat” – who the fuck is this based on? Does Zucker really believe Michael Moore, or liberals in general, or fucking ANYBODY really believes that? Or does he say that because he knows he’s got nothing and has to make up weird random nonsense to argue against?
In the beginning of the movie Moore says he wants to make a movie that’s “against everything America stands for, but not technically anti-American.” They probaly don’t realize what a good description that is of AMERICAN CAROL. Some of the things America stands for that the movie derides as foolish in a post-9-11 world include freedom of the press, the 4th amendment, civil liberties, and college. ACLU lawyers – i.e. people who stand up for the rights America was founded on (on July 4th, by the way) – are literally depicted as zombies who Judge Dennis Hopper joyfully blows away in order to stop the separation of church and state.
I always think it’s funny what a boogeyman Michael Moore is to the right. I get that they don’t agree with him, but not why they obsess over him. Not long ago when Republicans had the White House, both branches of Congress, most of the Supreme Court, the highest rated news channel and the war they’d been itching for since the early ’90s, it still infuriated them that there was one fat guy out there making a documentary they disagreed with once every two or three years. They fucking HATE this guy. They want to commit physical violence on him, as illustrated by the recurring “joke” of everybody slapping Michael Moore throughout the movie. Seems weird to me, he seems like a pretty small fish to fry. And the movie says the same thing with a reoccurring joke that supposedly nobody watches documentaries. Everybody falls asleep at the premiere of his movie, his award isn’t televised, he wants to do features, whenever he says he won an Oscar somebody clarifies “for documentary.”
Yeah, exactly, who cares about some guy who directs documentaries? I mean, you know, other than YOU motherfuckers, who spent your own money making a shitty comedy personally attacking him as a guy who never bathes, eats pizza with mice in it (what the hell?) and is embarrassed that his nephew is in the army.
Come to think of it, these guys seem somewhat fixated on documentarians, since they also have a Rosie O’Donnell lookalike called Rosie O’Connell, who for some reason is also a documentary filmmaker.
They apparently disagree with SICKO’s portrayal of the Cuban health care system, so you get to wrap your head around a comedic fictional portrayal of long lines at a Cuban hospital being presented as the truthful alternative to actual documentary footage shot in the real place.
“It must be weird, not having anybody cum on you.”
–Robert Davi as Al Torres in SHOWGIRLS
The attack on George Clooney (played by Kevin Sorbo) isn’t too harsh, but it’s weirdly hypocritical. Instead of GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK he’s the director of THAT MCCARTHY SURE WAS BAD and there’s a joke about how he only attacks things that don’t exist anymore, like Nazis and McCarthy, instead of things that do, like Islamic terrorists. Come on dude, don’t play dumb, clearly you understand that GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK was meant to draw parallels to the treatment of the anti-war voices who were in the minority at the time. More importantly, didn’t I read an article about AN AMERICAN CAROL in the Weekly Standard, and didn’t it say something about McCarthy in there? Let’s take a look:
“Until now, conservatives in Hollywood have always been too few and too worried about a backlash to do anything serious to challenge the left-wing status quo. David Zucker believes we are in a ‘new McCarthy era.'” Hmmm, doesn’t that seem to indicate that he does think it’s legitimate to bring up Joseph McCarthy as a parallell to modern events? Unless he was just saying Andrew McCarthy is gonna make a huge comeback.
But of all the stupid arguments made in the movie I think maybe the most embarrassing one is the dead serious scene where the ghost of George Washington forces Moore to sift through the ashes of the dead at Ground Zero. Moore asks why he’s showing him this, it’s not his fault, and then he goes on to blame the CIA and other culprits for 9-11. Washington gives him a “you can’t bullshit me” look and asks if that’s what he’s gonna tell God on judgment day. And even Farley-as-Moore seems to agree that yes, we all know 9-11 was caused by Michael Moore. (That theory is never elaborated on.)
That’s gotta be the weirdest scene, but maybe the weirdest joke is the very first one. The movie opens with “Sweet Home Alabama” playing over a shot of an American flag. The camera pans out to show a red white and blue decorated outdoor barbecue. Leslie Nielson and his family are celebrating, kids are running around. Somebody throws Leslie a frisbee. He catches it and playfully throws it back – but it hits an old black lady in the face, knocking her off her bench. Nielsen doesn’t acknowledge that he has done this and the lady is never seen again.
That’s how clueless these weirdos are, that’s what they thought would be a good way to start out this movie. I honestly believe that it was meant as a harmless slapstick joke (it is clear throughout the movie that they believe falling down or getting hit with something = comedy). But why is it supposed to be funny that random violence happens to the one black adult at the barbecue? And set to the tune of a song talking about Alabama’s support of segregationist governor George Wallace? You really didn’t see any problem with that?
Kind of funny, actually, that they would use Lynyrd Skynyrd’s defensive response to Neil Young writing a song about racism and the legacy of slavery. This is kind of the same thing, they get mad that somebody doesn’t like something, but they bury their argument in name calling. AMERICAN CAROL, though, will not be remembered as long as “Sweet Home Alabama.” It’s not as catchy. Also, while the song seems to defend segregationist George Wallace (they claimed it didn’t, but I don’t buy it), AMERICAN CAROL does not have the balls to defend (or mention) George Bush. They get Jimmy Carter in there though, I guess that’s pretty current.
In all seriousness I really like Robert Davi (pictured here as part Merlin, part E.T.). He is a great asshole in DIE HARD, SHOWGIRLS and many other classics. I was honestly happy for him getting his name said out loud in the trailer for AMERICAN CAROL and I hope it opens doors for him to have his name said out loud in the trailer for something that is not idiotic garbage.
I’m sorry to get worked up over an inconsequential movie like this. It’s kind of infuriating to watch because the movie is so full of shit but you can’t stop it and make it back up or explain its points. But that’s fine, it doesn’t hurt anybody (well, it hurts the reputations of the people who agreed to be in it – you get the feeling even Paris Hilton is slumming). I’m sure it probaly is kind of hard to live in Hollywood as a conservative, and especially a crazy and paranoid conservative who has bizarre delusions about what the people around him believe.
But then again, it’s probaly hard to be a liberal if you work in NASCAR, wrestling, country music, big business or many other areas. If you really admire Patton so much maybe you should learn to man the fuck up and quit whining about basic facts of life. Isn’t he the guy who slapped a hospitalized soldier and called him a coward for saying he didn’t want to go back into combat? If I were you David Zucker I would quit worrying about not fitting in at parties and start worrying about the fact that you haven’t made a good movie in 20 years. That seems like the bigger problem in your life.
On the positive side, this is Leslie Nielsen’s best performance since at least SPY HARD. (I don’t know what that means, just trying to say something nice.)
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.