David Zucker’s An American Carol is a superb satire on Euro-loving America-haters. It has started slow at the box office, but deserves real audience support.
Given very little paid advertising and promoted largely by its writer-director, David Zucker’s An American Carol performed rather mundanely at the box office during its first weekend of release. The film finished ninth among all releases in U.S. box office receipts, taking in $3.8 million and finishing just ahead of another new release, Religulous, which took in $3.5 million.
Two other newly released films did much better, finishing first and third, respectively: the heavily promoted Beverly Hills Chihuahua ($29.0 million) and Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist (S12.0 million), with Eagle Eye in the number two slot in its second week, at $17.7 million.
For a film without any real promotion, An American Carol did all right and will probably turn a profit thanks to its low budget. Well known and respected in Hollywood circles for zany comedies such as Airplane!, Top Secret!, the Naked Gun movies, the Police Squad TV series, and Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4, in addition to producing the excellent TNT miniseries The Company, Zucker has earned the right to do a more personal project with lower budget and low box office expectations.
Thus An American Carol. Zucker, who was a lifelong Democrat awakened by the 9/11 attacks into a concern for the nation’s safety, became a supporter of the Bush administration and its War on Terror, including the War in Iraq. While the Hollywood orthodoxy has insisted on a monolithic opposition to the Iraq War and the Bush administration in general, Zucker has swum against that tide, speaking out publicly in support of a national right and responsibility to defend ourselves from foreign aggression.
Although we may disagree with Zucker regarding whether a war in Iraq was the right means of pursuing that goal (I tend to disagree with him, though like most people I found the arguments plausible in the runup to the war, and have argued that the expansion into nation-building there was unjustified), there can be no doubt that he has shown great courage in standing up for his principles.
In addition, we can laud Zucker for both courage and insight in his recognition that the opposition to the war in Iraq has brought on a thoroughly disturbing increase in elitist, hate-America attitudes among the various strands of the nation’s pseudointelligentsia—Hollywood, academia, journalists, powerful business interests, and other such frightful myrmidons of the contemporary orthodoxy of coercive elitism.
Prominent among these hate-America types (all of whom claim to love America but aggressively express their hatred of everything about the nation they allegedly love so much) is documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, and he is the main target of Zucker’s film and its symbol of the fashionable contempt for the real America and the overweening desire to transform it into a facsimile of modern-day Europe.
That’s the crux of the real war in the United States today: whether the Anglo-Ame
rican, Christian values that founded this nation will prevail over the Rousseau-De Sade foundations of contemporary Europe.
That conflict is the essence of all the political, social, and cultural divides in the United States today, and An American Carol makes a powerful case for the Anglo-American tradition. Through the same kind of zany humor and ridiculous situations that have driven Zucker’s other popular films, Zucker takes Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol as a way of showing the political and cultural redemption of hate-America documentarian Michael Malone.
With its necessary fealty to a relatively strong story line, albeit a fanciful one, An American Carol is not quite as zany and unpredictable as Zucker’s other popular comedies, but what it may lack in screwball humor is more than compensated for by the gains in thoughtfulness and emotional resonance the story and characters allow.
In addition, An American Carol really is quite funny throughout, with quite a few audible-laughter moments. It’s a good deal of fun, and it’s a great pleasure to see a Hollywood satire that mocks the people who pose the most serious dangers to our ways of life instead of jabbing at safe, politically correct targets that are too socially weak to pose much of a threat (such as televangelists, Southerners, and gun owners).
College professors, the ACLU, arrogant judges, Hollywood leftists, anti-handgun activists, and God-haters, by contrast, do have serious influence in our society, and global Islam seeks to neutralize or destroy us altogether. It took quite a bit of courage for Zucker to give these groups and others a satirical spanking. He’ll pay, of course, in bad reviews and social ostracism, but he clearly doesn’t care as much for those things as for following what he sees as the right and honorable path. Good for him.
In light of all of this, it’s important to note that the film ultimately projects a strongly positive tone. The presence of characters depicting real American heroes such as George Washington, George S. Patton, and John F. Kennedy shows what is great about the nation: it’s people and the values they stand on and for. In addition, the redemption of the central character is the center of the film’s drive and is both plausible and rather moving. The film fully accomplishes Zucker’s goal of comparing the values of the two major contemporary American points of view and establishing the superiority of his own and the greatness of America in allowing us the freedom to make our own choices.
Zucker has strong opinions about what those choices should be, and even if we may not agree with him on all issues, he is certainly right about the main one. An American Carol is a fine, honorable, and funny defense of America’s basic values against attacks by those who would well-meaningly transform the nation into something they themselves would soon enough find intolerable.