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An American Carol (2008)

tomatometer

11

Average Rating: 2.9/10
Reviews Counted: 45
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 40

An American Carol suffers not so much from its perceived political bias, but from the fact that it simply is not very funny.

0

Average Rating: 2.8/10
Critic Reviews: 13
Fresh: 0 | Rotten: 13

An American Carol suffers not so much from its perceived political bias, but from the fact that it simply is not very funny.

audience

46

liked it
Average Rating: 2.9/5
User Ratings: 15,737

My Rating

Movie Info

Ebenezer Scrooge gets the parody treatment from veteran writer/director David Zucker (Airplane!, Scary Movie 4) with this comedy starring Kevin Farley as a derisive documentarian ( la Michael Moore) who's visited by three ghosts intent on instilling the American spirit in the disillusioned filmmaker. Kelsey Grammer, Jon Voight, Leslie Nielsen, James Woods, and Dennis Hopper co-star in the Vivendi Entertainment production. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi

PG-13,

Comedy

David Zucker, Lewis Friedman, Myrna Sokoloff

Dec 30, 2008

$7.0M

Vivendi Entertainment - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (45) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (5) | Rotten (40) | DVD (4)

Utterly asinine, sophomoric, tasteless, the movie has much in common with Zucker's Airplane!, The Naked Gun 2 1/2 and Scary Movie sequels, minus the laughs.

October 13, 2008 Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Comments (4)
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Poorly made indie production has a script that feels like a list of ripostes collected over the last several years to liberal criticisms of the U.S.: The whole enterprise feels far more agenda- than entertainment-driven.

October 6, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety | Comments (3)
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An American Carol is about as not-funny as a comedy can get.

October 6, 2008 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer | Comments (4)
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a polemic, a screed, a combination comic rant and sentimental flag-waver that doesn't work as either.

October 6, 2008 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel | Comments (3)
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I can't imagine anyone -- Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, red-state or blue-state, earthling or E.T. -- finding An American Carol anything other than 'not funny.' And idiotic. And demeaning. And aggressively, persistently crummy.

October 6, 2008 | Comments (9)
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Is there any filmmaker alive, whether Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, capable of producing a truly incisive, intelligent satire about our politically polarized times?

October 6, 2008 Full Review Source: Newsday | Comments (5)
Newsday
Top Critic IconTop Critic

You could strip every last marginally political idea from the movie, and it would still probably be one of the most grueling, unfunny things released that year.

May 5, 2011 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy | Comment (1)
Antagony & Ecstasy

It is hard to believe that a comedy this singularly inept and downright unfunny came from one of the minds behind one of the funniest comedies of all time, Airplane!.

December 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinematical
Cinematical

Kada vi%u0161e potrebe za Michaelom Mooreom ne bude, potrebe za filmovima koje tog istog Moorea parodiraju bit %u0107e jo%u0161 manje.

December 14, 2009 Full Review Source: Draxblog Movie Reviews

Using sledgehammer gags in the service of a dissent-bashing tale, Zucker aims for the flag-waving brio of Warner Bros. cartoons during World War II, but he succeeds only in ruining Farley's big break.

April 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

just too insular to be engaging

December 31, 2008 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

What could have been an amusing riff looks more like a propaganda film out to destroy Moore rather than spoof him.

November 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Hollywood.com
Hollywood.com

The gags come fast and furiously with one-liners to make the case that liberals don't have exclusive rights to humor in Hollywood.

November 15, 2008 Full Review Source: Spectrum (St. George, Utah) | Comments (5)
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

... the jokes are lame and the caricatures too removed from any defensible reality.

November 12, 2008

An American Carol dares to mock the Left, but it forgets to bring the funny.

October 31, 2008 Full Review Source: What Would Toto Watch?
What Would Toto Watch?

Zucker's film reeks of a deeply insecure psychosis, one that's often insultingly mislabeled as patriotism -- which is how it gets away with wrapping itself in red, white and blue while simultaneously ridiculing our Bill Of Rights.

October 29, 2008 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Weekly
Philadelphia Weekly

Nice try, but I'd watch Airplane! again first.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

This movie is seriously unfunny, and it's not just my admittedly left-wing politics that are in the way of my getting the joke.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

An American Carol, David Zucker's mirthless conservative rally guised as an update on Charles Dickens' classic Christmas tale, hits a new low.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Boston Herald
Boston Herald

Overall, Zucker's cinematic middle finger is about as funny as an exploding toilet seat for hemorrhoid-induced senior citizens...a dreary picture mired in sophomoric sludge.

October 14, 2008 Full Review | Comments (4)
Movie Eye

...too unfocused and ill-disciplined to work either as Dickens pastiche or as political satire.

October 10, 2008 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

There's a good idea for a movie here: Someone considered poking fun at liberal filmmaker Michael Moore. The only problem with 'An American Carol' is that it's not funny.

October 10, 2008 Full Review
Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)

Right-wing political comedy just isn't funny.

October 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comments (8)
Common Sense Media

This is an uneven, uninspired, tired spoof that has about 10 funny jokes throughout.

October 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Sin Magazine | Comments (2)
Sin Magazine

As entertainment, An American Carol ranks below YouTube clips of Sarah Palin.

October 6, 2008 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine | Comments (6)
Boxoffice Magazine

Audience Reviews for An American Carol

ZuckNuckle my Man!

Laugh like your Country depends on it.

WARNING! This movie may be offensive to children, young people, old people, in-the-middle people, some people on the right, all people on the left, terrorists, pacifists, war-mongers, fish mongers, Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, agnostics (though you'd have to prove it to them), the ACLU, liberals, conservatives, neo-cons, ex-cons, future cons, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarian, people of color, people of no color, English speakers, English-as-a-second language speakers, non-speakers, men, women, more women, & Ivy League professors. Native Americans should be okay!
June 20, 2011
ScoopOnline
Wahida K

Super Reviewer

[font=Arial][color=DarkRed]Being a conservative in Hollywood is like being a gay Republican - tough business. Director David Zucker has a notable history with comedy, having helmed [i]Airplane![/i], the [i]Naked Gun[/i] series, and the back half of the [i]Scary Movie[/i]s. He says that he converted to conservatism in the wake of 9/11, and Zucker actually wrote and directed a short for the 2004 Republican National Convention that was deemed too edgy for the Grand Old Party. Conservatives have also garnered the reputation for not having the best sense of humor, and Zucker's [i]An American Carol[/i] will do little to change this belief.

Michael Malone (Kevin Farley) is an egotistical, fat, liberal documentary filmmaker whose latest work is titled, "Die You American Pigs." Catchy, ain't it? Malone wants to abolish the Fourth of July (would we just skip to July 5th?) and plans to protest a Trace Adkins concert for the troops. A batch of inept Islamic terrorists want to bomb the concert and decide into tricking Malone into assisting their goal. He will score them media passes to get onstage at the concert venue. Following the Charles Dickens' playbook, Malone is first visited by the spirit of his idol, John F. Kennedy (Chriss Anglin), who horrifies Malone by saying war is sometimes necessary (really, conservatives are trying to reclaim Kennedy?). Three spirits will visit him although he spends almost all of his time with the ghost of General Patton (Kelsey Grammer). The ghostly general takes Malone on a trip to see what the alternative versions of U.S. history had the country avoided war at all costs. Malone stays defiant until he meets up with the Angel of Death (also Trace Adkins, because??) and sees the error of his "America-hating" ways. I don't want to spoil things too much but the movie ends with an expanded Trace Adkins concert saluting the brave men and women in the armed forces.

Some from the opposing political viewpoints will find [i]An American Carol [/i]to be infuriating. To those angry few I say get over it, because this movie is simply too lazy to get angry over. It barely reaches 77 minutes before the credits roll. Zucker and company tend to stretch their canvas too broadly, to the point that they aren't exaggerating to lampoon but setting up cheap jokes. Michael Malone is fat. Michael Malone smells. Michael Malone falls down. Liberals hate America and want the terrorists to win. It's so easy to write this material because there's nothing topical or nuanced or even socially relevant. The movie beats reliable figures of conservative agita. When the movie tries to slam college professors as being dippy hippies brainwashing teens about the insurmountable ills of America, it just gets dumb (those people spend 10-15 years studying in a specialized academic field). There is no teeth to any of this satire because it's all just recycled caricatures with the wit ground down. There isn't anything of true satirical substance here. I don't even get some of the satire, like the ACLU is depicted as a cluster of zombies with briefcases. What does that mean? Needless to say, the skewering of Arabs is mostly cartoonish and offensive. The flick constantly makes fun of the documentary art form, saying they are inferior to "real movies." Because Michael Moore has an Oscar does that mean that the history of documentary film has to be slandered as being nothing more than transparent propaganda (at an awards ceremony, the top documentary is honored with the "Leni Riefenstahl Award")? Marginalizing an entire art form seems rash, especially considering that Moore's [i]Fahrenheit 9/11[/i] grossed over $220 million worldwide. As of this writing, [i]An American Carol[/i], a "real movie," has grossed seven million and counting.

The film deals in distasteful absolutes. Every idea is presented crudely in black and white. By the film's standards, being anti-war and anti-troops are inseparably linked. In my mind, and this might be crazy, but it seems to me that the most pro-troops one could be would be hoping for them all to return home alive and healthy. [i]An American Carol[/i] attempts to justify the ongoing War in Iraq, though it conveniently only ever flashes to combat in Afghanistan, the war that a majority of the public agrees with. It makes a case that war is sometimes necessary, though it has to flash back to Hitler and World War II to find a morally justified military engagement that everyone can feel god about. I agree that war is sometimes a reasonable option, but the movie paints all pacifists as wimpy appeasers. George Washington (Jon Voight) even steps in at one point to argue for the necessity of war in reference to the War on Terror. Did the filmmakers forget that Washington spent great expense to keep the nation out of foreign wars in his two terms? Isn't it also condescending and objectionable to have Washington say freedom of speech is misused when it goes against the government? I think the Founding Fathers would realize the importance of freedom of speech, including offensive speech. Isn't it also somewhat ironic to use slave-owners as mouthpieces for the merits of freedom? [i]An American Carol[/i] says that disagreement is the same as dissent; so refusing to support one's government blindly during a time of war is traitorous. Criticism is not anti-American. It's insulting to all rationale human beings. Zucker and crew make their case look just as myopic and dismissive as those they choose to ridicule.

The acting neither hinders nor helps the material. Farley is a game comedian but he cannot do much with such lightweight material. There are several celebrity cameos including James Woods, Dennis Hopper, Bill O'Reilly, Mary Hart, David Alan Grier, Gary Coleman, Leslie Nielsen, Zachary Levi, Kevin Sorbo, and Paris Hilton. When Zucker is calling favors into the likes of Paris Hilton, you know things cannot be solid.

Here's the problem. It's hard to satirize from a conservative point of view. Conservatism believes that the status quo is best or that things were better back in the day. Liberalism believes that society can always improve, so a liberal point of view would tweak the present situation in order to call attention to remaining improvements. A conservative point of view would make fun of that possible change. This is the same reason why documentaries, like it or not, typically have a more progressive bent, and it's because the filmmakers are presenting a case for change or outrage. Why would anyone devote himself or herself for years to create a film that says the world is peachy? Now I'm not saying that conservatism and humor are conflicting concepts, but it just makes it harder to be smarter. Making fun of [i]Good Night, and Good Luck[/i] is not trying hard enough. How dare George Clooney make a film about the media cowering and failing to question our elected leaders and have it be applicable to today's world.

The Zucker gag-a-minute spoof style doesn't necessarily translate well to political satire. I wasn't expecting much with [i]An American Carol[/i]. When they exploit 9/11, taking Malone to the wreckage of the World Trade Center to make its case, well the movie stops being a satire and just implodes. It hits its tired targets with a sledgehammer. The satire is extremely lazy, the slapstick is dumb, and the movie specializes in being obnoxious, coloring the world in two extremes. This isn't satire. This is just cheap and petty. Seriously, making fun of Michael Moore is like four years too late. Moore is a figure worthy of satire but the best that the movie can come up with is he's fat and hates America? That he's angry because he couldn't get girls when he was younger and all those studly military recruits did? That's not satire, that's just excessive name-calling. [i]An American Carol [/i]presents a new low for Zucker and I think even he knows it. On the DVD commentary track, Zucker, co-writer Lewis Friedman ([i]BASEketball[/i]), and actor Kevin Farley basically lambaste the final product, often criticizing their own movie. The derisive commentary track is more enjoyable than the film itself.

Nate's Grade: C-[/color][/font]
January 10, 2009
boxman
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

I thought this was a really funny movie, why all the criticism?
December 9, 2011
Daniel Dolgin

Super Reviewer

Mildly funny. Not awful, but not that good either.
As far as the message goes, it's as ridiculous as, well, one of Michael Moore's movies.
August 2, 2011
Alex Matarese

Super Reviewer

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

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