By MISSAK ARTINIAN
Who would have thought that David Zucker, the man responsible for such comedic gems as “Airplane” and “The Naked Gun,” could direct a right-wing political spoof as abysmal as “An American Carol?”
The movie’s plot is loosely based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” The Scrooge of the story, Michael Malone (a parody of Michael Moore), is an anti-American filmmaker who hates
Independence Day and what it stands for, and seeks to have it abolished. But when John F. Kennedy’s spirit steps out of Michael’s television, he warns Michael that three ghosts will visit him. Big surprise.
One of the many problems with Zucker’s spoof of arguably the greatest Christmas story ever written, besides being unfunny and predictable, is that it exploits the plot structure of Dickens’s masterpiece without doing it any justice.
Dickens created a well-developed character who the audience could sympathize with. This made Scrooge’s transformation from a despicable miser to a philanthropic hero all the more powerful.
But in Zucker’s story, the audience is forced to hate Michael because he is portrayed negatively as staunchly liberal, naively pacifist, pro gun-control, atheist and obese. Additionally, because of his “anti-American” documentaries, he has garnered a loyal fan-base in the hills of Afghanistan. Oh yeah, and he hates country music too.
Michael Malone does end up loving America in the end, again, big surprise, but all he really ends up loving is country music, guns, and barbecues on the fourth of July. This transformation leads to less than a cathartic emotional response. In fact, it leads to no response at all.
I sat in the theatre numb and confused. I had to question whether the movie was a left-wing spoof spoofing a right-wing spoof, or vice versa. Some of the messages in the movie were so ridiculous; it seemed to poke fun at its own intended audience. For example, one of the ghosts tells Michael, “and then there are people like you who abuse freedom of speech.” Oh really? That’s American.
The movie also pokes fun at education, having professors, dressed in clothing from the 1960s, teaching their students to hate war, America and God. Is this really the message that right-wing filmmakers want to send to right-wing audiences?
Now I understand that the movie is slapstick comedy, and to its credit, there are some points in the movie that are amusing and that generate a chuckle here and there. One scene early on has Malone filming a documentary parodying “Sicko.” Michael tells the camera that the Cuban government actually cares for their people, unlike America, right before a Cuban guard shoots someone in a wheelchair.
Scenes like that are few and far between, and are offset by mindless slapstick jokes. Are we to expect that the tenth time that Michael Malone gets slapped in the face, by Bill O Reilly no less, is supposed to be just as funny as the first? And I’m a sucker for slapstick comedy.
Zucker seems so fixated on making fun of Michael Moore that he loses sight of what’s funny and what’s not. Putting a rat inside Michael’s pizza box is not my idea of funny; it’s disgusting. Compare that to a memorable scene in “Airplane” where a young girl rejects a young boy’s offer to put cream in her coffee because, in her words, “I like my coffee black, like my men.” Laugh your-ass-off moments like that are completely nonexistent in “An American Carol.”
I decided to get to the bottom of how a man who once produced such gold can turn around and produce something as mindless and uninspired as “An American Carol.” It turns out that David Zucker, a former Democrat, has recently admitted, while promoting the movie, that he considers himself Republican. It seems that his sense of humor has disappeared along with his former political identity.
To determine whether the movie is worth your time and money, it doesn’t matter what your Political affiliation is. Democrat or Republican, if you’re a rational human-being with even the slightest notion of what humor is, you’ll probably find watching meat decay in a jar more entertaining than watching “An American Carol.”