Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Charles Dickens Hearts David Zucker

by Kathleen Parker

Americans numbed by the daily barrage of politics-as-usual are about to be awakened by some new fireworks -- Hollywood-style.

Imagine documentary filmmaker Michael Moore and director David Zucker ("Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun") in the center ring and you begin to get the idea.

Zucker's new movie, "An American Carol" (due in theaters Oct. 3), is a shot across Hollywood's bow, aimed directly at Moore. No slouch in self-defense -- or self-promotion -- Moore will release his own online movie, "Slacker Uprising," a few days before Zucker's to reap the benefit of the backhanded buzz.

The release of both films has been timed for maximum impact on the coming election. No matter who wins this cultural crossfire, Zucker's movie is revolutionary. He and co-writer Myrna Sokoloff (a former staffer for California Sen. Barbara Boxer), and other Hollywood renegades from the left who were mugged by reality on 9/11, are busting out of the closet -- with a serious case of the giggles.

Agree or not with their politics, they're not nobodies who can be ignored or dismissed as witless. Producer Stephen McEveety's resume includes such mega-hits as "Braveheart" and "The Passion of the Christ." Actors include Jon Voight, Dennis Hopper, Kelsey Grammer, James Woods, Kevin Farley and perennial villain Robert Davi.

As the title suggests, the story line is based on Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." Ghosts of the past -- George Washington (Voight), Gen. George S. Patton (Grammer) and John F. Kennedy (Chriss Anglin) -- squire America-bashing filmmaker "Michael Malone" around to see how the world would look if America hadn't bothered to fight any wars.

Malone, brilliantly played by Farley, has joined forces with a left-wing group,, to ban the Fourth of July. He also has been hired by terrorists to make a propaganda film to help recruit a diminishing supply of suicide bombers.

And you thought suicide bombers weren't funny.

The joke begins when two would-be terrorists enter a New York City subway station and are met at a security checkpoint by two NYPD officers. Just as they're about to be searched, in rushes a squad of ACLU attorneys with a stop-search order.

"Thank Allah for the ACLU," says one of the terrorists -- and we're off!

The vignettes keep coming so fast, it's hard to keep up.

One memorable scene has "Rosie O'Connell" appearing on "The O'Reilly Factor" to promote her new documentary, "The Truth About Radical Christians." The documentary shows two priests who hijack an airplane and storm the cockpit brandishing crucifixes. Next, we see two nuns festooned with explosives boarding a bus as passengers shout: "Oh no! Not the Christians!"

Another standout has Patton's ghost showing Malone a modern-day plantation full of happy cotton pickers who thank Malone for being such a humane slave owner. Malone staggers at the sight only to learn that this is his plantation and these are his slaves -- thanks to anti-war sentiment that prevented the Civil War.

In a line that filmmakers are still debating whether to cut, a smiling Gary Coleman finishes polishing a car and tosses his rag to someone: "Hey, Barack!"

No, he didn't say that. Yes. He. Did.

That's the movie, folks. In-your-face, off-the-charts, over-the-top, irreverent and insensitive in the extreme. "An American Carol" may not be The Best Movie You Ever Saw, but it's something. It's radical in its assault on the left wing; it's brave given the risk of peer ridicule and the potential for career suicide.

And it's funny -- if you like that sort of thing. Generally, I don't. As someone who is slapstick immune -- and who hated "The Three Stooges" -- I'm an unlikely cheerleader for this kind of film. But I admire its spirit.

"An American Carol" will probably be panned by jaded reviewers who will point out the film's flaws. Some in the target audience may find certain elements too crude -- nurses and doctors playing with an oversized derriere that's been separated from the rest of the corpse.

But the film makes a serious and necessary point that can't be missed amid the laughter and the outrage: America is not the enemy.

Zucker insists he needn't be taken seriously, but he does believe that Islamist terrorism poses a greater threat than those Americans typically demonized by Hollywood and the left.

For delivering that message, maybe Zucker deserves not an Oscar, but a Nobel Prize.

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