David Zucker, one third of the triumverate that created the disaster spoof Airplane! and the Naked Gun series has a new comedy coming this fall and it is undoubtedly going to be one of the more talked about movies of the season.
An American Carol centers around a rotund, Michael Moore-ish documentary producer (portrayed by the late Chris Farley’s brother, Kevin) who sets out to destroy the Fourth of July holiday through his latest film Die You American Pigs. In a riff on Dickens, the filmmaker is then visited by three ghosts who try to show him the true meaning of Freedom. Also in the cast are several well-known Hollywood conservatives including John Voight as George Washington, Kelsey Kramer as General George Patton, (both at right) Dennis Hopper and Zucker’s frequent collaborator Leslie Neilsen.
And Paris Hilton. (Don’t ask me…)
While we try to steer clear of politics here, I think that my opinion on this film’s premise is going to betray my progressive leanings. The film clearly wants to equate anyone as not adhering to conservative thought to hating America, which is a canard heard from the Right all too often. Those on the Left don’t hate America, they just have different ideas as to what makes America great and how to achieve that greatness.
That’s not to say that I don’t think the left should be made fun or that there is no comedy to be found there at all. Far from it. Standup comic Colin Quinn sports a blue-collar conservative outlook, but still makes me laugh. P. J. O’Rourke frequently makes me chuckle with his observations while Trey Parker and Matt Stone have bashed everyone at all points of the political spectrum with South Park and Team America: World Police. Heck, Parker and Stone skewered Moore fairly effectively in Team America while also roasting the Right’s militaristic-fetishism of patriotism.
However, this film seems more meanspirited than clever or funny. In one scene Bill O’Reilly beats up the Michael Moore-substitute in a portable toliet while the ghosts of John F Kennedy and General George Patton cheer him on. Excuse me? While anything has the potential to be funny if presented right, I have serious reservations about such a scene. If anything, it is just another example of how some conservatives think violence against those who differ in opinion to them equates comedy. (See also Rush Limbaugh’s comments back in April when he stated that it would be wonderful for the Right if there were riots at the Democratic National Convention and then, when he received criticism for it, backpedaled and said that it was all a joke.)
But it is the film’s climactic scene that bothers me the most. In it, the Michael Moore analogue “finds political clarity at the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center while the admonishing ghost of George Washington (played by Voight) hovers nearby.” I find it hard not to find such a scene distasteful, with Zucker trying to make political hay on the bodies of 3,000 dead Americans.
I try to go into any film I will be reviewing without any preconceived notions, hoping for the best. Unfortunately, Zucker is going to be making my job on his film very difficult.