An American Carol might be the most insidiously evil film I have ever seen. Written and Directed by David Zucker – one of the three behind Airplane! and The Naked Gun – An American Carol is a conspiracy theory piece that just falls short of blaming the Rothschilds. It is not only pro-war but pro-war crimes. How one man can descend so far from greatness should be a Jacob Marley-like warning to the rest of us. The film flopped massively and David Zucker doesn’t make films any more.
This is the opening shot:
This is a parody, right? Wrong.
Ah, Leslie Nielsen. A very good actor and a veteran of these kind of films but also, probably, sadly, an elderly racist. He’s barely in this anyway. He plays the grandfather of these children but he also plays an actor playing Osama Bin Laden at one point.
This is not really the kind of film you can pick apart that much. Whatever happens happens and you have to accept it. Consistency was not its aim and as such I shall have to judge it by the quality of its satire and its gags, both of which are exceptionally poor. I’ll also add, considering these films are basically a delivery mechanisms for gags, that there aren’t really that many.
Leslie Nielsen tells the assembled kids a story, much like Annabelle in An All Dogs Christmas Carol. The story is the story of Scrooge. Scrooge? The kids say. No no, not that Scrooge. This Scrooge hates the fourth of July, Leslie assures us. He takes us back to Afghanistan. At 1 minute and 58 seconds we get our first racist joke. A terrorist turns over his shoulder and calls for “Mohammed”.
Not to worry, this joke is repeated twelve, maybe eighteen times. The terrorists need a new training video, so they decide to enlist a man who hates America even more than they do.
Cut to: our main character: Michael Malone; a thin parody of Michael Moore, a fat oaf who wants to ban the 4th of July. Here he is in Cuba.
He loves the healthcare in Cuba, with its massive long lines and its dysgenics and its breathmints-instead-of-medicine. He thinks Cuba is a paradise. He loves it so much that he made a documentary about it and, at the screening, gives it a standing ovation while everyone around him sleeps.
I’m fairly indifferent to Michael Moore documentaries but it’s clear from the offset that David Zucker hates him with an intense burning rage reserved only for those who want better schools and hospitals.
Michael Malone is disgusting and fat and grotesque. He greedily grabs an armful of girl scout cookies and eats pizza so old it has mice running around on it.
The girl scout he buys the cookies from calls him a “fat, ignorant, traitorous sack of shit” to his face. He’s too stupid to understand her though, so he brushes it off.
Politics aside, have any of these wacky, irreverent, gag-laden films apart from Airplane! and the first Naked Gun movie ever really worked? Does anyone remember Dracula Dead and Loving It? Or Epic Movie? Or even fucking The Naked Gun 2? Richard Griffiths is in that one. There’s another discussion there but I can’t help but feel that a large part of those films is the deadpan lead like Robert Hays. Michael Malone is horrendously overplayed here by the lesser of the Farley siblings which is fitting because David Zucker sucks ass without his brother Jerry.
We’re at Michael’s offices – the headquarters for his Ban The Fourth Of July campaign. Why? Because he hates America. Go to Russia, commie.
The role of Fred is taken by Michael’s nephew; a golden American boy Josh. He serves in the Navy.
When he comes in, he’s mistaken for an activist and asked:
“Are you here to join sailors against war?”
He responds with:
“No, I think all sailors are against war but sometimes we have to fight.”
He sure showed them.
Michael Malone’s documentary “Die You American Pigs!” has won the Leni Riefenstahl award. Paris Hilton gives him the award. While stuffing himself with canapes and trying to grope young women, Michael Malone accidentally agrees to direct a pro-terrorist film financed by the Afghans from earlier.
Michael Malone sits down in front of the TV with two ready meals and suddenly…
JFK steps through the television and confronts Michael directly about his reckless peace-mongering. I’m going to reprint a large chunk of their conversation in full here because I want you to imagine David Zucker sitting down at a desk writing it.
JFK: You must redeem yourself. This is the greatest country in history, and you have slandered it all over the globe.
Michael: I was tryin’ to be like you. You wouldn’t have gone into Vietnam.
JFK: Who told you that?
Michael: Oliver Stone. In his movie.
JFK: Oh, brother! Did you ever read my inaugural address?
Michael: Of course! Ask not what your country can do for you-
JFK: Not that part. The part about going to war.
Michael: There was a war part?
JFK: Oh, brother. Let every nation know, whether they wish us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
Michael: I didn’t know about the war part.
JFK: What do you think that meant? Draft another 8 U.N. resolutions?
Michael: You sound like Reagan.
JFK: Thank you.
Look at how the stupid, idiot modern liberal is painted into a corner. What a total idiot! I can’t believe all liberals are like this.
I like this extract because of how much insight it gives you into David Zucker’s mindset. Why would the US need to comply by UN resolutions? You get your opinions from a movie, which makes you an idiot! Now watch my movie and get your opinions.
Kelsey Grammer as The Ghost of Christmas Past as George C Scott as George S Patton.
I say Christmas Past, he’s also the Ghost of Christmas Alt-Present and Christmas Sort-Of Future. It’s hard to explain but I’ll get to it. He floats in and out over the course of the next 50 minutes.
Where does he take us to first? What is the best way to go about convincing our hero the error of his ways? Rational debate maybe? Subtle use of metaphor?
No, of course.
Not only is this film pro-war, it is anti-diplomacy. This scene is an extended comparison of THE MUNICH AGREEMENT to ALL INTERNATIONAL NEGOTIATIONS AND TREATIES. This is a take so mind numbingly simplistic that it’d be banned in a sixth form debating tournament.
This is so stupid. This might be the stupidest film I have ever seen. It’s a film someone could only make with the most basic understand of politics as glimpsed through Fox News. It could at least have the decency to be funny. Instead we get jokes like the following exchange between Hitler and Neville Chamberlain:
“Und ve’ll name a concentration camp after you, think of it; Camp Auschwitz-Chamberlain.”
The message of this scene is: “talking to dictators achieves nothing”. I won’t turn this into a boring political diatribe but that has never exactly been a message that America was keen on respecting.
We’re now taken to the alt-present, where the civil war never happened and thus America consists of 50 slave states. Michael Malone owns his own plantation. Look what happens when you’re a pacifist!
Also, one of the slaves is Gary Coleman. Playing himself. Again.
Michael is disgusted and wants to leave. We then get the grossest joke I think I have ever seen in film. A little girl pops up from the cotton fields and says “Bye Daddy!”. Then her mother next to her also waves and says “Bye Daddy!”. Then a chorus of about twelve others join in.
I’m a believer that bad taste can potentially be justified if there is a valid satirical purpose and it is executed perfectly. Brass Eye’s Paedogeddon is one of the very few examples of this. This is not that. This is just horrible.
Are you ready for some textbook Nazi anti-intellectualism?
Michael: Are we gonna go back in time?
Patton: We don’t need to, we’re at a University.
We are treated to a musical number where college professors “indoctrinate an entire generation into hating its own country”.
Select lyrics include:
If you think the way we do, we’ll give you an A/
And you get extra credit if you’re poor, black or gay/
Just be sure not to pray.
The professors say nothing’s changed since 1968 (callback to anti-Vietnam protests) and remark on how things used to be better for them then, they had full heads of hair and could ovulate (their words, not mine). The students parents come in and are shocked at how much money they’re wasting on college education.
We then go back in time to Michael’s youth. He and his love agree to wait while Michael goes to film school, but he drops out after one term and gets cucked by a serviceman. It’s implied that the reason that Michael hates the army, July 4th and America is because he’s bitter about this. What utterly garbage film making.
Then Patton leaves for a while and Michael goes about his day to day life.
BILL O’REILLY CAMEO TIME.
Michael and a character called Rosie O’Connell are on his talk show to promote their films. Rosie’s is a sketch about the threat posted by Radical Christian Terrorism.
It’s all such patronising garbage. There aren’t many right wing comedians for a reason, you know. Also there’s a weird joke about TSA guards mocking a women for stains in her underwear, telling her to use bleach or change her diet.
Rosie then goes on to compare anti-war activism with 9/11 truther politics. Either David Zucker is genuinely stupid or he has contempt for his fellow American conservatives. All throughout this, Bill O’Reilly is the calm, collected voice of sanity and reason. This is not what Bill O’Reilly is like. The whole film is like a 35mm Ben Garrison cartoon.
Bill O’Reilly then gets his own a teachable moment as he turns to Michael during Rosie O’Connell’s tirade about 9/11.
O’Reilly: Here’s a news flash for you, Malone. Your movies may not be
as crazy as Rosie’s, but yours are more dangerous because some idiots believe what you say.
Michael: Because I tell the truth!
O’Reilly: Because you tell the audience what it wants to hear.
Not this film though.
I’m fairly confident that it was this strawman parody of Rosie O’Donnell that made Trump dislike her so much. I would not put it past him to have seen this film in the cinema.
We’re now in a scene where the terrorists are auditioning people for Michael’s film (???)
This is where Nielsen as Osama Bin Laden from earlier comes up. Say it with me folks: This is never mentioned again.
Now, the one thing I have got used to over the last 22 days is structure. All of these stories, even fucking Rich Little, follow the same basic premise. This doesn’t. For instance: I have no idea what is a spectral vision and what is not. I also have no idea whether any particular scene is set in the past, present or an alternate universe.
Kelsey comes back again now. What next? We’re under attack! Who could it be? Terrorists? No, it’s the ACLU.
Why the ACLU? To quote Kelsey:
“They come around every now and again. No listenin’ in on terrorists’ calls. Be nice to Al Qaeda. Read ’em their rights. Separation of church and state.”
The first thing to note about the ACLU is that they are nonpartisan. They are constitutionalists and will defend the 2nd amendment just as strongly as the 24th. The separation of church and state is literally constitutional. How can this film, in one breath, vilify their work and also wax lyrical about liberty? The ACLU are depicted as “the enemies within” and yet it is their unequivocal support of the rule of law that is what makes America the paradise this film claims it to be.
There’s a horrifying bit where Michael chastises Patton for blindfolding prisoners of war in Afghanistan. “It’s against the Geneva convention! Innocent until proven guilty!” he says. “Let me tell you something” Kelsey replies. “If they’re on the battlefield and shooting at you, they’re guilty.”. This is the part I mentioned at the beginning where the film literally condones committing war crimes.
We then get a shot that is exactly like the ironic Fascist propaganda films from Starship Troopers, pipe music underscoring American soldiers firing guns. A flatly lit hero shot of Kelsey Grammer. But this isn’t ironic. It’s actually a bit scary.
We’re then transported to the future (I think) where George Washington greets Michael and talks to him about how he used to pray for guidance while President.
Structure. All. Over. The. Place.
Washington shows Michael outside the chapel, which we are informed are the ruins of the World Trade Centre. THEN we see Michael’s gravestone.
THEN we meet the “Angel of Death” played by Trace Adkins, who is also playing himself? It’s extremely unclear.
He shows Michael a vision of the future, the future that liberals want, where Hollywood has been taken over by terrorists and is renamed Bin Laden City. Does… David Zucker understand what Islamic terrorism is? Also Detroit was nuked and all that was left is Michael’s massive ass. How is he buried in a graveyard in New York when his body (sans ass) was vapourised in Detroit? Oh, whatever.
Michael is back in the present now, and heads to his Anti-4th-of-July rally. He comes out against the terrorists and is booed off stage. But don’t worry! The heroic marines protect him all the way.
But that’s not all! Before he goes and visits Fred to complete his redemption arc, he goes to stop a terrorist plot to blow up Trace Adkins. Don’t worry about it. Anyway, he foils it with a little help from some reformed terrorists.
Tiny Tim, who existed all along despite playing ABSOLUTELY NO PART IN THE STORY turns up and delivers a slightly altered Christmas Carol Message:
“God bless us, every one, and God bless America.”
End of film.
I don’t know many things but 22 days into Chradvent I know A Christmas Carol. And there is nothing more totally inconsistent with its messages of goodwill, kindness and generosity than this film. It openly condones war, diplomacy by force and hardline reactionary conservativism. It was everything Dickens despised.
Upon its release, the film was panned by liberal critics who found its politics rightfully insidious. It was also panned by several conservative outlets, including Michael Brendan Doherty of The American Conservative who considered the movie to be funny “in parts”, but concluded that “Far from lampooning the Left, “Carol” insults conservatives by presuming that they are so simple as to be won over by fat jokes and flatulence. But the audience, imagining itself to be persecuted by Hollywood, is so grateful to be flattered by Zucker and company that they chuckle obediently at every cheap laff.”
He’s right, of course. The problem here is that even a mediocre conservative comedy is a conservative comedy and so has to be defended by conservatives even if it’s at the expense of their intellectual honesty.
This was the most morally abhorrent film I have ever seen that was not literally fascist propaganda.
-1 out of 10
Some days you get 700 words some days you get 2700 words. That’s just all within the standard deviation of Chradvent.