Saturday, October 04, 2008

Movie Review: An American Carol

Karen and I saw An American Carol, David Zucker's patriotic respin of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, last night. We dragged The Kid along with us and he enjoyed it, too, despite having to be seen going into the movie theater in the company of his parents. Could there be anything more mortifying for a 13-year-old?

An American Carol is one very funny movie. It is not Airplane!-grade funny, because the underlying subtext is far too serious, but there are plenty of times when you will be laughing out loud. At first you will do so a little nervously, because of Political Correctness, but then when you realize that everyone else in the theater is laughing at the same things you are, you will really laugh, because it will be such a blessed relief to do so.

This movie is definitely one I will be buying when it comes out on DVD, just to watch again so that I can spot all the sight gags and bits of background business I missed the first time.

There are a couple of things about this movie that are worth special mention. Kelsey Grammer does a terrific turn as the ghost of General Patton; so good, in fact, that when we got home I wanted to pull Patton off the shelf and watch it again. Fortunately, Karen's desire to get some sleep prevailed. The fake movie trailer for a documentary by "Rosie O'Connell" on the Christian Terrorist Threat is a scream. ("Oh no! It's a nun!") The scene where Kevin Farley, in the lead role as the Scrooge-like filmmaker "Michael Malone," who hates the 4th of July, is trying to speak to an anti-war rally on a campus and can't make himself heard over the crowd's mindless chanting cracked me up many times over, as I think I've been at that protest or one just like it. (Hint: try to read all the signs the "protesters" are holding.) Penultimately, Dennis Hopper's extended segment, which might best be described as The Night of the Living ACLU Lawyers, is falling-out-of-your-seat-laughing funny.

And then, crowning it all, if John Voight's turn as the ghost of George Washington doesn't choke you up, you'd better check in with your doctor, because you just might not have a heart.

A few words of warning, though. The language in this one does get a bit rough. Not Team America-grade rough, and in fact The Kid said it was considerably milder than the language he hears every day in public school, but this film does subscribe to the theory that it's hilarious when a cute little girl swears like a sailor. Eh, what can you say? Humor is subjective, and one man's hilariously witty riposte is another man's stale fart joke.

But all the way around, I'd have to score this one a 3.5 out of a possible 4, and say that my wife, The Kid, and I all thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly recommended.

Two postscripts, though. If you have any thought of seeing this one, go see it now. Movie makers, theaters, and distributors all watch the opening weekend box office numbers very closely, and if you want to see more movies like this one made, you need to put your dollars behind it. The showing we went to was nearly full, and as we walked out there was a line waiting to get in for the next showing, but it was only showing on one screen at the cineplex, and only at one cineplex in the area. This movie is not going to be given time to "develop legs," as the expression goes. If you don't see it now, it will probably vanish from the theaters inside of two weeks.

Conservative-oriented movies, and Christian-oriented movies in particular, are frequently victims of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The audiences complain that "they just don't make the kind of movies we like anymore," while the movie-makers say, "there's no point in making those kinds of movies, because nobody goes to them." Well, this time a nice Jewish boy, David Zucker, has made a nice, funny, patriotic little movie that appeals not only to conservatives in general but is surprisingly sympathetic to Catholics in particular. So if you want to see more movies like this one — or preferably, better than this one — here's your chance to let the movie-makers know that people do go to movies like this, if they get made.

The second postscript is: I cannot believe CAIR is not screaming from the rooftops and staging protests everywhere to let everyone know how horribly, stereotypically, racially insensitively evil this movie is, in the way that it mocks the sincerely held beliefs of Arab terrorists and Islamic suicide bombers. So if for no other reason, go see this one now, before CAIR gets some idiot judge to grant an injunction banning it!