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"An American Carol" DVD Review

For Memorial Day and because two of the actors in it - Dennis Hopper and Gary Coleman (yeah, in the same movie!) - passed away in the past few days, tonight's film was David Zucker's conservative comedy An American Carol. Zucker was part of the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team that brought us comedy classics like The Kentucky Fried Movie, Airplane, The Naked Gun, Top Secret!, and he also directed BASEketball and Scary Movie 3 & 4. With such a background, I don't know what's more surprising: that he's a conservative in Hollyweird or that the movie isn't a hella lot funnier.

Spoofing A Christmas Carol's format, An American Carol has Michael Moore (ne Malone - played by Kevin "Chris' not dead brother" Farley) visited by the ghosts of Gen. Patton (Kelsey Grammer), George Washington (Jon Voight in a restrained and excellent brief turn), and the Angel of Death (country big dude Trace Adkins) after JFK realizes that Mikey's a big, fat, anti-American a-hole who's trying to ban the 4th of July. Concurrently, a hapless trio of jihadists are trying to exploit Moore, er, Malone to get access to Madison Square Garden to blow the joint up. Hijinx ensue.

While there are many laugh-out-loud moments if Airplane-style slapstick and some witty observations, the overall result is too tame, too safe, and most egregiously, not that funny. Michael Moore has beclowned himself well enough that no one takes his shtick seriously anymore and Matt Stone and Trey Parker lampooned the food-stained moron well enough in their 2004 puppet epic Team America: World Police, four years before AAC. It also doesn't help that the movie is consciously not too risque because it was clearly targeted to appeal to an older Middle American - OK, let's just call them what they are: old, white, Christians who don't go to movies anymore because those freaks, junkies, and queers in Hollywood are filling the picture shows with fornication, nudity and bad words. You know, the stuff South Park deploys to brutal effect in their brilliant satires.

While it's natural to want to credit or demerit An American Carol based on one's politics - humorless liberals (redundant, I know) won't get most of the jokes and desperate-for-payback conservatives will talk themselves into thinking it's funnier than it is - the bottom line is that even though I was sympathetic to Zucker's objectives, it just didn't make me laugh enough to recommended it too highly.

Score: 4/10. Catch it on cable if nothing else is on.

Gary Coleman has a 10 second part with perhaps two lines; Dennis Hopper has a great scene as a judge taking great glee in gunning down zombie ACLU lawyers. Godspeed, Frank Booth.


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