Yes, I saw it. Overall, considering I'm on the opposite side of most of the political points it's lecturing on behalf of, I don't think it's awful. The out-and-out jokes mostly land funny, and as individual vignettes they work just fine. The problem is the structure and the intent: The imposition of the "Christmas Carol" narrative and the fact that director David Zucker has a point to make that, for him, supersedes the jokes causes too many of the "skits" to go flat. You end up with several genuinely amusing, clever "bits" that just DEFLATE before your eyes as Kelsey Grammer shows up in a General Patton costume to explain the premise of the joke, sagely intone the message and deliver the lesson he wants us to take from it. What's more, it tries to go maudlin and serious in the third act, which is DEADLY in a movie like this. It's a unique kind of failure, though.
In case you hadn't heard of this (and, according to it's DISASTEROUS opening weekend take, there's a damn good chance of that) it's David "Airplane!" Zucker's satire of "liberal" politics, celebrities, interest-groups and Michael Moore in particular. It borrows the basic plot of "A Christmas Carol," with Moore look-a-like documentarian Michael Malone (Kevin Farley, Chris Farley's brother and actually very good in this) as he's visited on the eve of July 4th by the ghosts of JFK, Patton, George Washington (Jon Voigt) and Trace Adkins as Death who try to show him the negative impact his anti-patriotism has on his own life and the rest of the country.
During the "journey," some stopover skits include a visit to an alternate-reality South where Slavery still exists because Lincoln was against war, zombie ACLU lawyers, a dance number with aging-hippie College professors gleefully singing about how assured they are that the world situation today is EXACTLY the same as it was in 1968, Malone recieving the "Leni Reifenstahl Award for Documentary Filmmaking" and a visit to a pre-Pearl Harbor 40s anti-war "peace" rally (get it?) An interwoven secondary plot involves a trio of hapless Islamist terrorists (led by Robert Davi!) who are funding Malone's next movie (unknown to him) as a front to stage an attack.
On their own, the sketches themselves are mostly funny... but the follow-up attempts at seriousness kill it. And when it gets into the ALL-serious stuff - like Washington taking Malone back to a freshly-collapsed Ground Zero to lambaste him for his actions and worldview - are just dead in the water. They stop the thing cold, agree or disagree with what's being said.
Anyhoo... the punchline here is that it's a dud. A huge flop. 0pened at #9, despite massive promotion to it's target audience - in the "let's make it a hit to prove a point" vein - on talk radio, Fox News and the web. Here's the abridged version of some figures I dropped over at "Dirty Harry's Place" - a largely sociable and open-minded Republican-leaning movie site - earlier tonight: (original link: http://www.dirtyharrysplace.com/ )
"I mean, after all, I’ve been reading boxoffice analysis on the right-wing blogosphere for YEARS whenever a “liberal” film fails to outgross “Titanic,” along with the repeated talking points about how this proves that A.) box-office is the only real indicator of quality because it reflects how “da folks” feel, that B.) “liberal” Hollywood is out of touch and that C.) they’re pissing money away because a “conservative” movie would be HUGE if only they made one. So it only seems right and proper to look close at the numbers on this one."
"So, #9. Just to put that in some perspective: It opened behind - and made about 310,00 dollars LESS - on it’s heavily-promoted (on Fox, talk radio and the web) opening weekend than the Kirk-Cameron-fights-fires-for-Christ-movie made in it’s 2nd week PLUMMET. Know what else? It was only one spot ahead of “Religulous”… which was playing in less-than HALF the number of theatres. In fact, in terms of per-screen average Maher’s movie was the second highest ticket-seller, surpassed only be “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.”
"Boxoffice Mojo is FUN, innit? Let’s do s’more. Here’s some movies that opened better than “An American Carol.” See if you can detect a theme:
STOP LOSS: $4,555,117
LIONS FOR LAMBS: $6,702,434
THE CONTENDER: $5,303,900
TRAITOR: $7,868,465 ($10,006,327 when adjusted for three-day weekend)
THE GOOD SHEPHERD: $9,912,110 ($14,142,760 when adjusted for three-day Xmas weekend)
It’s also, BTW, the lowest-grossing opening weekend EVER for a film directed by David Zucker. “Scary Movie 3″ - the absolute worst entry of it’s respective franchise - opened 10.6 TIMES as big. Even “My Boss’s Daughter” - the worst film Zucker has ever made - opened a full thousand bucks higher."
Now, what does all that mean? The same thing it "meant" when all the so-called "liberal" anti-war movies tanked: Bupkiss, really. Not a damn thing, other than that marketing still matters and that American audiences will, given the choice, generally avoid movies that want them to THINK regardless of what type of thoughts are in question. So maybe this can be where BOTH sides put the box-office-tally-to-prove-a-point thing to bed? Please?