An American Carol and The Big Easy

I just got off the radio with Greta of Kiss My Gumbo, the New Orleans radio show/blog that discusses politics and culture in Louisiana (or, as I call it, “the other L.A.”). Greta’s show on 790 WIST in New Orleans goes live on-air on Saturday mornings, and as a consummate egomaniac I assume she scheduled it for 9:30 Central just to make her West Coast correspondents get up early.

(“Greta! Do you realize what 9:30 a.m. your time means, translated into Pacific Time?”

“I think it’s two hours earlier, Joy. That’s only 7:30 a.m.”

“But you know how I am about mornings!”)

We talked about An American Carol, and what a creative challenge that movie must have been for David Zucker, whose usual style is pure slapstick (most famously [infamousy?] in Airplane! and The Naked Gun). Making a film in which anti-Americanism is the target is not the same kind of creative project as those comically scattershot productions, but Zucker found a premise for tying the current story up into a delicious cream puff of pro-military patriotism: what if filmmaker Michael Moore, like Ebeneezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” were nudged by supernatural spirits into seeing the error of his ways?

What, indeed?

The film’s star is Kevin Farley, who had to gain so much weight to play “Michael Malone” that his family got worried and threatened him with Medical Attention until he confessed what he was up to—just getting ready to spoof an anti-American “documentary” filmmaker who likes to play it fast and loose with the facts.

A lot of the lefty blogs and reviewers have been thrilled to see that An American Carol “only” opened at #9 last weekend. (Because it was “beaten by Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” which made more money, but somehow oddly at the same time it was “beaten by Bill Mahar’s Religulous,” which made less money on opening weekend [and opened at #10] but appeared on more screens. So the methodologies for measuring success depend upon whether one is comparing Zucker’s film to a bit of fluff by a smarmy pseudo-libertarian, or a talking dog that opened on many, many more screens than either of the other two movies. Confused? Me too.)

Because we all know that the film industry does not have any sort of leftward tilt; it’s all about making money. That’s why Mel Gibson had to work so hard and get such creative financing for The Film That Dare Not Speak Its Name—you know: the one that made a fortune, and launched several careers, and yet uniquely, in the history of the film business, kicked ass at the box office while inspiring no imitators whatsoever. Nothing about the lives of the apostles. Nothing about the Old Testament. Nothing about the other characters in the gospels. Instead, a feature version was made of Go, Speed Racer, because one can never go wrong by making a movie based on a television show from the 1960s.

I’m still definitely recommending An American Carol, although one does have to show up a few minutes early, double-check that the theater gave the correct showtime for the movie, and verify the title on the ticket stub, since teenage pranks by cineplex employees seem to have kept a few people away from this movie.

Like the Steve Martin/John Candy classic Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (directed and written by John Hughes, and just as chockablock-full of cameos as Zucker’s Carol itself), this movie is that rare beast: a comedy with a real—and important—point to make. So don’t be bothered if you can’t buy your tickets online, and the movie’s name doesn’t appear on the marquee outside—just politely confirm with one of the staffers at the cineplex that American Carol is playing there, at such-and-such a time, and get your ticket. (And double-check that the ticket indeed says “An American Carol” on it.)

But please do not be discouraged by having to take a few precautions or spend a few extra minutes to see this film. After all, An American Carol achieved a major release, which never happened to a lot of other well-done films with a center-right take on the issues of the day, such as Indoctrinate U (Evan Coyne Maloney’s takedown of bias within academic institutions); Ben Stein’s Expelled (a meditation on why we are not allowed to discuss Intelligent Design as part of scientific inquiry—and a peek into the dark side of Darwinist extremism); Mine Your Own Business (a documentary about how those in the developing world are being kept in poverty by environmental True Believers); In the Face of Evil (the story of Ronald Reagan squaring off against totalitarianism), and Is It True What They Say, Ann? (a sympathetic yet irreverent look at Ann Coulter).

There’s no conspiracy to keep us out of theaters that are showing An American Carol. There is, however, a grand opportunity for us to go to the movies this weekend without having our love of country insulted, or the military put down in some backhanded fashion.

And we don’t have to order it on DVD and wait for it to get to our homes. And we don’t have to make our own popcorn when we see it.

If I were you, I’d take advantage. I’ve done so, and I might just do it again.

(X-posted at Little Miss Attila.)

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