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An American Carol

The director of Airplane! and The Naked Gun leans too far to the right in this scathing but terribly unfunny poke at Michael Moore.


Skewering the politics of the left--and Michael Moore, in particular--is not a terrible idea for comedy, but American Carol doesn't do it very successfully. Using the hackneyed, uninspired approach of spoofing Dickens' A Christmas Carol, director David Zucker's version has the Ghosts of John F. Kennedy (Chriss Anglin), General George S. Patton (Kelsey Grammer) and George Washington (Jon Voight) visiting a liberal documentary filmmaker named Michael Malone (Kevin Farley) in order to set him straight and teach him not to hate America, but to embrace it in all its glory. Their goal is to stop him from helping a group of Islamic suicide bombers make a new recruitment film. In a series of gags, American Carol presents Malone as a man who uses the medium to bash his country. He is portrayed as sympathetic to Nazis and Hitler, responsible for 9/11, in bed with Middle Eastern terrorists--wrong on every possible issue and overweight to boot. After pointing out all his perceived evil, the ghosts try to get Moore, er, Malone to see the light and change his ways.


Apparently, David Zucker--aware most of Hollywood leans to the left--got a list of actors known to be supporters of the GOP and hired them all. Voight, Grammer, James Woods, Kevin Sorbo, Dennis Hopper, Robert Davi , ET's Mary Hart, country singer Trace Adkins and even Zucker veteran Leslie Nielsen signed up to bash Moore, using a sledgehammer approach as a substitute for the lack of a clever script. Occasionally, thanks to an inspired casting choice here and there, Carol is kind of amusing, such as in a scene in which Malone and Rosie O'Connell (get it?) guest on the O'Reilly Factor. With Bill O'Reilly playing himself (and doing it well), actress Vicki Browne really nails Rosie, who is presented as so far left, she makes Moore look like Ronald Reagan. As Malone, Farley (younger brother of the late Chris Farley) looks reasonably like Moore but doesn't really get the mannerisms right. It's not enough to try and get by just by putting on a baseball cap and glasses and hoping for the best. Of the rest, Grammer comes off well as Patton, delivering his lines with a lot more panache than they deserve. You know what kind of movie you're watching when even Gary Coleman and Paris Hilton turn up for a bit.


Zucker--whose films Airplane! and the The Naked Gun series specialize in inspired sight gags--seems to have forgotten how to make this style of throw-it-to-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks style of comedy work. Surprisingly, the jokes are mostly verbal in this outing, and the whole comic soufflé falls flat. Also the events of 9/11 are still too close to serve as a gateway for a few of the gags employed here. The premise is promising, but the Michael Malone/Moore character is so far out, he doesn't resemble reality, much less the famous Moore. Blaming him for all the ills of the world may be cathartic for the ultra-conservative base Zucker is apparently aiming An American Carol at, but there needs to be more than just a kernel of truth to make these jokes zing. Instead, what could have been an amusing riff looks more like a propaganda film out to destroy Moore rather than spoof him.

Bottom Line rated this film 1 star.