(2008)1.5Derek ArmstrongThe movie An American Carol -- focused on the Fourth of July, structured after a classic Christmas story, and released in October -- feels divorced from both time and place, a witless holdover from when broad Airplane!-style spoofs actually worked, and the world hadn't yet been afflicted with Date Movie and Meet the Spartans. Another way it sticks out: it's ridiculously conservative. In terms of participants, An American Carol could serve as a veritable roll call for Hollywood Republicans, who didn't anticipate their politics slipping to the fringe as Barack Obama was resoundingly elected into office. The film bashes liberals with the zest and arrogance of a majority party, humiliating and debasing its Michael Moore clone (Kevin Farley) in every imaginable way. In so doing, it never considers the possibility of dissent; it expects all viewers to salivate at the opportunity to attack zombie ACLU lawyers with shotguns (a "treat" left to former liberal Dennis Hopper), or get in line behind conservative windbag Bill O'Reilly for the chance to slap "Michael Malone" in the face.
With a sprinkling of nuance and/or intelligence, Malone's crusade to abolish Independence Day would be a funny idea -- and not far removed from something Michael Moore might actually do. Too bad every attempt to execute that idea is moronic, from the film's poor parallels to Dickens (Kelsey Grammer's General Patton serves as two of the three ghosts), to its offensive characterization of Muslims, to its jingoistic love for men in uniform, to its reliance on octogenarian Leslie Nielsen for would-be guffaws. Most narrow-minded is how the film repeatedly registers its contempt for documentaries, as though denying the very usefulness of exposing corruption. Writer-director David Zucker's politics are his own business. But if they play a part in eradicating his comedic instincts, then it becomes a public concern.