Saturday, January 17, 2009
Republican roll call
You know when you fall asleep watching Saturday Night Live, and you wake up all befuddled, and Showtime at the Apollo is on? And you have this moment where you think "Wow, this program really isn't intended for me?" (Forgive me, my readers of color -- I'm working a bit about white people here.)
That's how it is for a liberal to watch David Zucker's disasterpiece An American Carol.
It's really rare to see fringe ideology -- let's face it, neo-con thinking is pretty fringe in Hollywood -- appear in a mainstream product that gets a theatrical release. And so as you watch An American Carol -- a jingoistic, mean-spirited screed against liberals, their documentaries, and Michael Moore -- there's a weird sensation of watching a piece of Republican propaganda break past all the invisible barriers Hollywood usually constructs against it. It's not that this movie shouldn't have the right to exist -- it's that this movie is just so downright different that it calls attention to itself.
It's kind of like liberal and conservative media. The liberal media is only liberally biased -- it's a totally subtextual thing, else it would really would be unavoidably scandalous. But to counteract that bias, conservative media has to be openly, blatantaly, unquestionably conservative. The way the public debate has been couched, that's an acceptable response to even a hint of liberal bias.
And so it is with movies. While movies with a liberal agenda are usually as subliminal as they can be about it (with the notable exception of Moore's movies themselves), movies with a conservative agenda are ... well ... An American Carol. And to think this man, David Zucker, once directed the first really great spoof -- Airplane! Someone who's dead from that movie rolls over in his/her grave.
The only thing that's fun about watching An American Carol (because it sure as hell ain't the least bit funny) is the conversation you get to have with yourself while watching it. And that conversation basically boils down to looking at the participants in this movie and thinking:
"Is he a crazy Republican, or is he just doing this for the money?"
So to save you the trouble -- and believe me, you don't want this kind of trouble -- I'm going to run down the cast for you:
Kelsey Grammer (as General Patton): Kook. Says he got screwed on an attempt to donate money to the Democrats years ago, and is now a card-carrying Republican. Ah Fraser, I thought people who spoke like Brits were supposed to be enlightened.
Kevin Farley (as Micheal Malone): Paycheck. Although Farley has supposedly told people he's been a life-long conservative, my guess is that he's trying to play along. He looked kind of like Michael Moore, and this was his chance for the "leading man" role once occupied so regularly by his brother Chris. So let's call it Paycheck combined with Stepping Out of Sibling's Shadow.
James Woods (as Agent Grosslight): Kook. He gets to tell Farley's Malone "Save it for your crazies" with a dismissive wave of his hand, and he means it. Besides, Woods is the guy who claimed he saw some of the 9/11 terrorists on a flight a month earlier and notified a flight attendant about them. Racial profiling to the rescue once again!
Robert Davi (as Aziz): Kook. That's right, the key Islamist extremists are all played by Americans. I was tempted to put Paycheck there just because Davi's career has been so bad, but he's supposedly pretty outspoken. (You're going to notice a pattern here.)
Jon Voight (as George Washington): Kook. Yep, Voight's politics differ significantly from those of daughter Angelina. Hey, he accused Barack Obama of "sowing socialist seeds in young people." What more do you need?
David Alan Grier (as Rastus Malone): Paycheck. This was before his surprisingly funny talk show on Comedy Central, Chocolate News, had proved to be as surprisingly funny as it is. If that show weren't enough to indicate Grier's political alliances, we have Zucker's comment about the very brief appearance (brief enough not to really know what the movie was about?) by the comic: "I'm sure David Alan Grier was appalled."
Trace Adkins (as the Angel of Death): Kook. Trace Adkins is a country singer. Nuff said. (The Dixie Chicks notwithstanding.)
Bill O'Reilly (as Bill O'Reilly): Total Kook. Dead giveaway of what kind of movie this is, if you ever had a doubt.
Dennis Hopper (as Judge): And this is the really sad one ... Kook. Dennis, what happened to the drug-loving hippie we used to know? Perhaps most dispiritingly, Hopper plays a gun-loving judge who starts blowing away zombified versions of ACLU lawyers. And there's no irony.
Leslie Nielsen (as Osama bin Nielsen/Grandpa): Paycheck. Favor to Zucker, and vice versa.
Notably absent: Patricia Heaton, Jim Caviezel, Clint Eastwood, the corpse of Charlton Heston, God
If you have a healthy skepticism, you're probably thinking I hate this movie because of its politics, not because it's mind-numbingly unfunny. But just to show you that's not the case -- or not totally the case -- I think there's a very funny idea somewhere hidden beneath the American flags and hateful jabs at Rosie O'Donnell. A guy -- and why not have him be based on the flawed liberal icon Michael Moore -- who wants to abolish the 4th of July is a funny idea. But what they do with it ... garbage. Absolute garbage.
In any case, now we also have a clearer idea of who the enemy is. Kelsey, Jon, James, even you Dennis ... watch your backs.