Saturday, October 4, 2008

"An American Carol" - The Worst Movie Ever?

According to Wikipedia, filmmaker David Zucker was involved in the following movies:

Collaborative works (with Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams)
The Kentucky Fried MovieAirplane!Top Secret!Police Squad!Ruthless PeopleThe Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!
David Zucker films
The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of FearNaked Gun 33⅓: The Final InsultHigh School HighBASEketballMy Boss's DaughterScary Movie 3Scary Movie 4An American Carol

Kentucky Fried Movie, Airplane, and the Police Squad!/Naked Gun movies were greatness. Unless you saw them in the theatres in the late 70's - early 80's, you don't quite understand what a groundbreaking streak of irreverence the Zuckers and Jim Abrahams put together. No one had ever seen anything like it.

So last night, I decided to go see "An American Carol", David Zucker's latest film. I've been traveling a lot, and had heard Right Wing Radio incessantly peddling the movie. I understood going in that Kevin Farley plays a Michael Moore/America-Hater type documentarian. JFK visits him, and warns that he'll be visited by three spirits: George Patton, George Washington, and singer Trace Adkins. Yes, Trace Adkins.
Trace Adkins.
But I pride myself on being open minded. Michael Moore is a pompous windbag, he's the worst thing in his movies, and a Michael Moore parody in the Scrooge role could be funny.
(For an outstanding demolition of a Michael Moore movie, click here to read Christopher Hitchens on Fahrenheit 9/11.)

My second warning came when I walked into the theatre. The ACLU's mental image of the Fox News Network's viewers? That's what the theatre was packed with. VFW vests. Wheelchairs. 45-year old husbands in polyester Sans-a-Belt slacks, with wives who still had Farrah Fawcett hairstyles. Granted, I was in Euless Texas, but still..... This was almost scary.

The movie begins with some Muslim terrorists trying to get a suicide bomber to explode properly. They fail. They decide they need a P.R. campaign. Cut to the Michael Moore character winning MoooveOn.Org awards for documentaries, but getting no respect or box office $$$'s. They terrorists recruit Michael Moore to do their movie.

In the meantime, Michael Moore is involved in a campaign to eliminate the Fourth Of July.

Later that night, JFK comes out of Michael Moore's TV set and tells him he's going to be haunted by 3 spirits. Kelsey Grammar does a good General George S. Patton. He shows Moore what we're fighting for, the consequences of defeat, and so forth. John Voight is George Washington, doing the same. And then Trace Adkins, well, whose idea was he?????

There's a big finale when Michael Moore prevents the terrorists from blowing up Madison Square Garden during a Trace Adkins concert. Depending on your opinion of Soccer Mom Country Music, this may not have been a heroic act.

Here are the problems with the movie:

1. It wasn't funny. The sight gags, a Zucker Brothers staple, weren't particularly well done. Most of the jokes only elicited nervous giggles from an audience that walked in the door wanting to love this movie. I laugh out loud during movies all the time, and I think I only snorted four times in 90 minutes.

2. The sound quality was bad. The vocal dubbing was bad. I couldn't understand a lot of the terrorist dialogue.
There's an anti-academic dance scene, where old tenured hippies burst into song - something about 1968. The lyrics may have been funny, but I'll never know. I couldn't understand them.

3. The editing was choppy. Some scenes looked like the actors were waiting around for someone to say "Action". There are limited special effects, but they seemed cheap. High School students shooting for YouTube have done more authentic explosions.

4. Trace Adkins.

5. Any time a movie relies on profanity from children for its biggest laughs, the movie is in trouble.

6. The previous Zucker comedies were hilarious because they were a) irreverent, and b) politically incorrect. I love political incorrectness. But the politically incorrect parts of "An American Carol" weren't funny. There's a scene where Dennis Hopper plays a judge who is trying to fight off ACLU zombie lawyers. The zombies, among other things, are trying to tear the 10 Commandments off the wall of his courtroom. And it just wasn't funny.

It's politically incorrect to mention that we're having to endure increased airport security because of Muslims. Yes, Muslims. (Please forgive me for speaking the unspeakable. But it really is because of Muslims.)
One scene in the movie shows airport personnel enforcing ludicrous investigations, body cavity searches, etc, because of Radical Christian Extremists. It made you think, and it made you question political correctness, but it wasn't funny.

7. It's difficult to make an irreverent comedy that's to be marketed to political conservatives, simply because one of the chief features of conservatism is reverence.

Contrast this movie with "Team America: World Police". Now there's a movie that took no prisoners, and made almost all of the same points that "An American Carol" attempted.

There's a 1979 film called "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh" that I saw in its original theatrical release. It's a Disco/NBA/Astrology mashup about an adorable black kid (this was the age of Gary Coleman, Webster, etc) who figures out that if his home team have the same astrological sign (Pisces) they'll win all their basketball games.

I hated, hated, hated that movie. Any time the subject of bad movies comes up in conversation, I can hold forth for waaaaay too long on the complete and utter crap that I paid good 1979 money to watch.

But now there's a contender. "An American Carol" may have been worse.


Francis Shivone said...

Thanks for tip. I still want to see the latest Coen Bros movie.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I laughed my head off all the way through the Coen Brs. "Burn After Reading".
Great stuff.
I really wanted to find something to like about "An American Carol".
I just couldn't find it.

Dr Ralph said...

Burn after Reading is funny stuff. Maybe not the best from the brothers (for that, my money is on "Oh Brother Where Art Thou", or "The Big Lebowski") but even so-so Coen brothers beats most other stuff out there.

Despite my commie/liberal/pinko sensibilities, I take guilty pleasure in a lot of humor that does not adhere to that groove (I think Ron White is hilarious). American Carol sounded like a stinker from the word go -- cynically written and promoted to fill a perceived gap in the marketplace, and worst of all, not funny.

Bottom line: crap is crap, no matter from whose backside it originates.

Jay@Soob said...

I second that thanks for the tip. And I'll second the Big Lebowski as the best Coen bros. production.

Francis Shivone said...

Speaking of "Oh Brother." It's in my top 10 all-time. I have to get to "Burn" but haven't.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Let's not forget the immortal "Raising Arizona" in the comedy category and "Fargo" in the drama category.
I still haven't seen "No Country For Old Men".

Francis Shivone said...

Last movie comment: No Country for Old Men is a spell-binding movie. I liked it, but I have to close my eyes at the really violent parts, which in this case was about 25% of the movie.

I do have one question for you. I don't care for Maher and won't go to Religulous. Et tu?

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I'm somewhat different. I don't much care for Mahr - mostly because he strikes me as kinda smarmy.
I probably will see Religulous, though. I want to see what the fuss is about.

Anonymous said...

this movie was hilarious. absolutly fantastic. this author is obviously a lib, because every knowledgeable American knows that all of this is true. If you wish to be educated on how america is going these days, in a way thats intertaining, go see this movie.

Dr Ralph said...

Ha ha! He called Whited a Lib!

I'm assuming he meant Liberal. I'm further assuming he meant a commie/pinko/socialist/Amerika-hating Liberal, not a Classic Liberal.

But since he was anonymous I guess we'll never know. Based on his spelling skills, I'd say Hannity was a strong possibility.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Yes, intertaining. Very intertaining. That's intertainment.