Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Look up Myrna Sokoloff on the IMDB and you will see a resume that reflects the quality of the screenplay for An American Carol. Or, perhaps the name is an escape-door pseudonym like "Alan Smithee" allowing the writer to become a ghost, thus saving his or her career. Some may think that by "saving" I mean covering-up the writer's conservative leanings in the decidedly liberal working town of Hollywood. But no, I mean that the script to An American Carol is so abysmal that any aspiring screenwriter should quickly want to erase it from their portfolio.

An American Carol plays out more like a list of right-wing agenda items that David Zucker wanted to hit on rather than an fully formed comedy that the well-liked director is known for in Airplane! & The Naked Gun. In fact, seeing those film's reliable eighty-two year old Leslie Nielsen hobble on screen in the film's first shot is sad foreshadowing of the eighty minutes that follow. Honestly, An American Carol barely resembles a film at all. Scene 1: Spoof Michael Moore in Cuba; Scene 2: Spoof ACLU lawyers; Scene 3: Spoof Good Night, and Good Luck; Scene 4: Spoof indoctrinating college professors. Zucker obviously wants to flex his opposition to such things, but the package he delivers it in is a pill rather than a cupcake.

This summer, in the Kevin Costner produced Swing Vote, Kelsey Grammar and Dennis Hopper played opposing mainstream party candidates in a message-comedy about America's largely uninformed electorate and its hunger for a significant third party point-of-view to contrast the Tweedledee and Tweedledum options we currently have.

Both Grammar and Hopper effectively expressed the ethical self-shame in compromising convictions in order to get elected. (Swing Vote's flip-flopping sequences hilariously bandied this about, preceding McCain and Obama's own repositioning of themselves in their 2008 campaigns.) But there is no warmth in their portrayals of General Patton and a circuit court judge in An American Carol. Instead, you sense an itchy let's-hurry-this-up urgency in their performances, as if they trusted David Zucker's track record when signing on, but by mid-production wished they had an emergency eject button in their pockets.

It's not that Zucker's targets couldn't make for some welcome and ripe fodder (see the career of Trey Parker & Matt Stone), but An American Carol simply sets up dated and hated left-wing sign posts just to knock them down. I mean, the premise of poking Michael Moore in the eye is at least two years too late at this point. (Does anyone take him seriously anymore?) Add to that Rosie O'Donnell... Leni Riefenstahl comparisons... suicide bomber jokes... all are tired and boring. The fact that An American Carol's script relies on an age old Dickensian story arch to keep these random fragments together just proves how uninterested the film's creators were in making something of substance to go along with their talking points.


Soiled Sinema said...

As soon as I saw the poster for this, I knew we were in for a bit o' trouble.

Fox said...

The trailer was pretty unbearable, but I couldn't resist giving it a chance. But it was worse than I thought. I think I almost started to laugh during a protest scene... but I didn't. PCU got it better, though that film is REALLY dated now.

I'm surprised you guys haven't reviewed this yet. It would probably rank up their with your Disaster Movie review... or was that an Epic Movie review? One of those "Movies". Anyways, I would love to read your take on it.

Soiled Sinema said...

I didn't get that film in our theaters. PCU is an epic college film.

Megan said...

Yeah, the trailer pretty much said it all for me on this one.

I hope you get to see something you like soon!

Fox said...


I saw Baby Mama (again) recently and loved it. I also saw The Forsaken Land and liked that.

... but then I saw something last night (after the An American Carol disaster) that I didn't like at all. But I might write it up so I can't say what it is.

But thanks for your concern! :0)


I thought PCU did a good job of eating their own, but the Republican/conservative stereotype humor was pretty predictable and well stereotypical... but, I mean, it was Zak Penn writing, so. You could tell the makers lacked a frame of reference in that area.

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