An American Carol
An American Carol is a 2008 comedy movie.
"Documentary maker Michael Malone starts a campaign to have the Fourth of July holiday outlawed on the grounds that it's racist. The night of July 3, he's visited by the ghosts of America's Past, Present, and Future, to tell him why he and all liberals are wrong about America's past, and the threats facing it in the present and future."— Official Synopsis
Left-wing activist and filmmaker Michael Malone (Kevin Farley), a parody of Michael Moore, campaigns to end the celebration of the Fourth of July holiday. Malone holds pronounced anti-American views and truculently argues that America's past and present are both offensive, and therefore should not be celebrated. He has finished another film entitled "Die, You American Pigs!" and just won another award for "Best Documentary Director" at the MooveAlong.org awards. They rush Malone off the stage before he can give a speech and his trophy is remarkably small, insignificant—and turns out to be a keychain. Then they start televising the program and give out the Award for "Best Film Director" overall. Malone is already working on another anti-American film called "Fascist America".
On the evening of July 3, Malone watches a speech from President John F. Kennedy and mistakenly interprets the speech to mean avoiding war at any cost. President Kennedy rises out of the television set, corrects Malone regarding the intent of the speech, and informs him that he will be visited by three spirits.
The following morning, Malone is visited by General George S. Patton (Kelsey Grammer), who shows him an alternate United States where slavery still exists because Abraham Lincoln (founder of the Republican Party) chose not to fight the Civil War. Malone later sees George Washington (Jon Voight) who gives a passionate speech about God's gift of freedom and the price many people pay for others to have it. Malone is visited by the angel of death (Trace Adkins), who takes him to a future Los Angeles completely taken over by radical Islamists. He is then taken to the ruins of his hometown in Michigan, which has been destroyed by a nuclear bomb planted by Al Qaeda. In a mortuary, Malone learns that he will be killed in this attack, leaving nothing behind but his trademark hat and "big ass." Facing his death, Malone pleads for his life with the Angel, promising to change. However, all is not well after Malone's revelation, for Aziz, a Middle Easterner he had interviewed, is actually a terrorist who will bomb a 4 July rally along with his underlings Ahmed and Fayed. However, when Fayed and Ahmed learn they are going to be detonated along with the planned bomb, they figure their slim chance of survival is by seeking out Malone.
Later, Malone arrives at an anti-Fourth of July protest rally and publicly renounces his former views. This triggers an outraged mob from which he is rescued, however, by American servicemen. Meeting up with Malone, Ahmed and Fayed defuse their own bomb, thus sparing the people at the anti-Independence Day rally and resulting in the capture of the terrorist Aziz. Safe inside a country music concert, the three are formally welcomed to "the real America" by Trace Adkins (this time as himself). A reformed Malone then goes to a Navy base to see his nephew Josh off to the Persian Gulf. He tells Josh how very proud he is of him and promises to look in on his wife and family during his deployment. In the final scene, Malone now decides to make films he feels people would appreciate, as well as Fayed and Ahmed as part of the crew, who have been pardoned for foiling the bombing. Malone is last seen working on a biographical film about President Kennedy.
Why It Sucks
- As you can probably guess from the title, the plot is an unimaginative rehash of A Christmas Carol, just focusing on the Fourth of July rather than Christmas.
- Many of the cast have obviously been given their roles because they're conservatives, rather than them being well-suited to the role. Some of the casting choices (i.e. Kelsey Grammer as George Patton and Kevin Farley as Michael Malone) work reasonably well, but most of the others are just bizarre, most notably Leslie Nielsen as an Islamic terrorist.
- Tries to go for the same style of wacky, over-the-top humor while delivering a serious message as the likes of South Park, but fails miserably. Team America: World Police had already done this type of satire far better, and more even-handedly, four years earlier.
- Despite being made so that conservatives would have a comedy movie of their own, it doesn't actually seem to understand what conservatism is, and seems to imply that it just means supporting the War on Terror and the military... oh, and country music as well.
- The movie was released several years too late. They might have been able to get away with a movie that strongly promoted patriotism and the War on Terror in the early stages of George W. Bush's presidency, or even as late as his re-election in 2004, but by the time it was released (near the end of Bush's time in office), the War on Terror was widely viewed as a failure, and the occupation of Iraq a costly disaster.
- This also makes the movie's stabs at liberals for their obsession with slavery and the civil rights movement while refusing to acknowledge the more recent issue of Islamic terrorism a little hypocritical, as the movie was released seven years after the 9/11 attacks, and three years after what at the time was the most recent major Islamic terrorism incident in the west (the July 7, 2005 bombings in London, England).
- The movie's accusing Hollywood of being cowardly for not wanting to make movies about Islamic terrorism is factually incorrect anyway, because there had been several movies on the subject released in the previous decade, including the Oscar-nominated United 93.
- The writers can't seem to think of any way to criticize Michael Moore than by just calling him fat and accusing him of hating America for not supporting the War on Terror. This completely misses the point of the actual criticisms of Moore's documentaries. On top of that, by the time the movie was released, Moore had moved past criticizing the War on Terror and had moved onto criticizing the American healthcare system (he had actually released his documentary about it, Sicko, over a year before this was released).
- Demonizes the ACLU and accuses them of trying to undermine American values, leading to a scene where General George Patton has his troops massacre a crowd of ACLU lawyers. Not only is this incredibly insulting and disrespectful to the ACLU (who have actually fought on behalf of conservatives and Christians on numerous occasions), but it also disrespects the memory of Patton, a man who would never have ordered such a thing (Kelsey Grammer apparently complained about this to director David Zucker, but was overruled).
- For some reason the movie tries to imply that John F. Kennedy was a conservative, despite his being a Democrat and quite liberal for his time. The movie's argument seems to be that no liberal would have stood up to the USSR during the Cuban Missile Crisis, therefore Kennedy was a conservative.
- The film just tries to say Micheal Moore is a dumbass and pervy but they are wrong he is a very smart and nice man.
- The movie also praises Kennedy for his willingness to potentially go to war with Cuba (and by extension, the USSR) during the crisis, even though Kennedy is usually given credit for avoiding a war, not wanting one.
- Tries to pull the same flawed argument that Dinesh D'Souza would later use in Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, by claiming that people shouldn't vote for the Democrats, because they supported slavery in the past.
- The "future" segment of the story shows Islamic terrorists completely destroying the United States with nuclear weapons. Exactly how they'd obtain that many nukes (you'd need about as many as Russia have in their entire arsenal) is of course completely unexplained.
- Poor, predictable ending, where Malone recants his liberal views and supports the War on Terror. Ironically, despite one of the central principles of conservatism being thinking for one's self and not being afraid to express your views, it means the ending actually ends up promoting conformity.
- Kevin Farley gets down Michael Moore's mannerisms pretty well, and Kelsey Grammer does a reasonable imitation of George C. Scott's iconic performance as Patton.
- A few aspects of the movie's plot actually do feel quite prescient in retrospect, especially liberals trying to accuse America's history and many of its traditions of being racist.
- One or two of the jokes and scenes can be funny.
An American Carol scored only 13% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. The response from audiences was a little better, but still poor, with a 47% score on Rotten Tomatoes, and an IMDb user rating of 4.1/10.
Director David Zucker later disowned the movie, saying that it had started out seeming like a good idea, but ended up a complete failure in execution. Co-star Kelsey Grammer also expressed regret for appearing in the movie; aside from his complaints about how General Patton was written, he said that watching it made him realize that appearing in the movie made him no better than the liberals who constantly take pot-shots at conservatives in the media.
- Leslie Nielsen's elder brother Erik was a Conservative politician in their native Canada, eventually becoming Deputy Prime Minister of the country in the mid-1980s.
- Jon Voight supposedly thought the movie was actually too nice towards liberals, as did Trace Adkins.