In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, director David Zucker said distributor Vivendi Entertainment did not screen An American Carol in advance for reviews because "those [who] don't like the politics will tend to label the film as 'not funny.'"
The implication, of course, is that movie critics are a pitchforks-and-torches mob of raging leftists who will tear down anything that opposes their personal ideologies.
But I can't imagine anyone - Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, red-state or blue-state, earthling or E.T. - deeming An American Carol anything other than "not funny." And idiotic. And demeaning. And persistently, astonishingly crummy.
Bad enough to earn a rare spot on my hallowed list of "The Worst Movies I've Ever Seen," An American Carol is testament that the country's culture wars are raging just as strongly within Hollywood as anywhere else. That is the only way to explain the presence of so many famous actors (including Kelsey Grammer, Jon Voight, James Woods and Dennis Hopper) in a film that I suspect even they will never watch in its entirety.
The premise, which is as stale and weary as Leslie Nielsen looks in the story's framing device, centers on Michael Malone (played by Kevin Farley, brother of the late Chris Farley), a maker of anti-American documentaries who launches a campaign to abolish the Fourth of July holiday, claiming it glorifies war.
Before he can succeed, though, the junk-food loving slob gets a visit from the ghost of John F. Kennedy (Chris Anglinn), who scolds him on his unpatriotic ways and tells him he will be visited by three spirits - Gen. George Patton (Grammer), George Washington (Voight) and the Angel of Death (country singer Trace Adkins) - who will show him the error of his ways.
An American Carol director and co-writer Zucker once created the Airplane! and The Naked Gun franchises, and has since been milking the shotgun-comedy style in an endless series of Scary Movie sequels. He's a pro at the gag-a-second brand of humor, and An American Carol throws so many jokes at the screen that it is inevitable some of them score (like a bit depicting the ACLU as zombies out of a George A. Romero picture.)
As a lame-brained, anything-for-a-laugh comedy, An American Carol is no better or worse than Date Movie or Meet the Spartans. It is the movie's underlying tone - its relentless hammering on its pro-war, anti-dissent, anti-liberal message - that makes watching it such a sour experience. In Religulous, the documentary that also hit theaters on Friday, Bill Maher harps on his anti-religion message in such a strident, condescending manner that he makes even hardcore atheists think about going to church, just to spite him.
An American Carol, too, is so hell bent on getting its message across that it becomes a turn-off. Belligerence is rarely ever funny, and when Zucker dares to exploit the smoking World Trade Center ruins as an argument for silencing those who choose to protest war, An American Carol crosses the line into stupefying offensiveness.
For anyone who has ever longed for a film with cameos by Bill O'Reilly, Paris Hilton and Gary Coleman, and for those who think suicide bombers, racism and al-Qaeda are fountains of hilarity, An American Carol is the movie for you. And don't worry if you can't make it to the theater to see it, since the film is already scheduled to hit DVD in early January. The makers of An American Carol aren't just out to patronize conservatives; they also want to separate them from their money as quickly as they can, before word gets out of just how wretched their movie is. After all, what's more patriotic than trying to make a buck?
You can watch the first 10 minutes of An American Carol for free here.