October 04, 2008

An American Carol, Reviewed


Wow. What a fun movie: and this coming from a woman who doesn't regard slapstick as high art, and isn't sure about physical comedy at all, unless it's being done by Steve Martin or Bryan Cranston.

But when this kind of thing is done well, it's got a divinity all its own. My memories of Airplane! are fading enough that it's probably a good excuse to see it again—but I can watch old episodes of Police Squad back-to-back and have a wonderful time.

I had two personal, private litmus tests yesterday on opening night for An American Carol. One: would my leftist/neoliberal friends laugh at it? Two: would there be enough left for me to laugh at, given that I've already run three trailers for this movie, along with the highlight reel?

The answers are yes, and yes: Zucker delivered, and he did it despite the fact that I've already seen a lot of good gags cherry-picked out of this thing. Fortunately, it's a fecund cherry tree—jam-packed with laugh-out-loud moments. (And George Washington didn't chop it down, after all.)

The film certainly answers those of my friends who tell me that they are "JFK" liberals. The man himself shows up to point out that he himself was no pacifist—that there are, indeed, things worth fighting for.

I was just worried, because the project was so intrinsically ambitious: I knew there was a serious message in there, and I knew that the movie—in the vein of A Christmas Carol, had to redeem a seemingly irredeemable character. And deal, at the same time, with the most horrifying issues of our day. Yet the final product still had to be funny—in that Naked Gun-ish way. Even with an amazingly talented cast, Zucker demanded more of himself in this effort than he ever had before.

He pulled it off brilliantly. The serious subtexts are there, and yet I would take my unreconstructed, neo-liberal mom to see this film, and she'd laugh. So the movie's appeal is really to anyone who loves to celebrate the Fourth of July, isn't fond of terrorists, thinks Neville Chamberlain's actions were not 100% effective, in hindsight, and senses that the ACLU exceeds its original mission on occasion to a teensy little degree.

Oh, right: and that gluttony is no more attractive than any of the other seven deadly sins.

This is opening weekend, Kids. Now that it's been certified safe for your centrist and center-left friends, you can take your entire social circle to see it tonight.

Tonight—and Sunday night, to some extent—will tell the tale on whether movies that don't toe the anti-American party line can still make people laugh, and (just as importantly, if you want the laughs to keep coming), make money.

So you went to see it on opening night? No reason not to go again tonight—and then once more on Sunday, for that matter. Remember that old Annie Hall advertisement from the 1970s?—"It's always best the third time."

Vote with your feet, boys and girls. And have fun.

[Please just work around the comment spam; I'll clean it up tonight after I get back from the Sarah Palin rally. I know it's been horrible lately.]

UPDATE: Comments shut down; if you need to comment on this thread specifically, send me a note. Or just scroll up a few entries to the next AAC thread.

I'll be getting with Pixy on the comment spam issue.

Posted by Attila Girl at October 4, 2008 01:15 AM | TrackBack

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic "Let the issues be the issue.

About Joy W. McCann: I've been interviewed for Le Monde and mentioned on Fox News. I once did a segment for CNN on "Women and Guns," and this blog is periodically featured on the New York Times' blog list. My writing here has been quoted in California Lawyer. I've appeared on The Glenn and Helen Show. Oh—and Tammy Bruce once bought me breakfast.
My writing has appeared in
The Noise, Handguns, Sports Afield, The American Spectator, and (it's a long story) L.A. Parent. This is my main blog, though I'm also an alumnus of Dean's World, and I help out on the weekends at Right Wing News.
My political philosophy is quite simple: I'm a classical liberal. In our Orwellian times, that makes me a conservative, though one of a decidedly libertarian bent.

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