I'm holding a palm card that was just given out at the Heritage Foundation to promote the new David Zucker film An American Carol. If I fill out the card, I can take one of four pledges, such as "Yes, I will send the trailer to my contacts" and "Yes, I want to be AN AMERICAN CAROLER or THEATER CAPTAIN." It's an induction to a movement, as the slogan on the card makes clear: "Finally, a movie for us."
By "us," of course, the filmmakers and promoters mean conservatives. Executive producer Myrna Sokoloff has put together a "pro-soldier, support our troops, pro-America" comedy, which Stephen Hayes previews in the new Weekly Standard. In it, filmmaker Michael Malone (Kevin "brother of Chris" Farley) and his organization MoveAlong.org are trying to repeal the Fourth of July when three angels—the Angel of Death, George S. Patton, and George Washington—come to him and convince him to change his ways.
The crowd at Heritage got to see a trailer and a few minutes of clips 24 hours before either of them will be generally released. I'm a huge fan of the Zucker-Leslie Nielsen canon, and not much of a fan of Zucker's ads for Republicans. The footage we saw floated somewhere in the middle of those two projects, quality-wise. Fat-assed Malone travels to Cuba, pledges to destroy America, and takes advantage of the invisibility granted by ghost status by grabbing a protestor's boobs. Bill O'Reilly appears out of nowhere to slap him. "I just like doing that," he says. Terrorists led by everybody's favorite pockmarked tough guy Robert Davi bitch that they're low on suicide bombers ("All the good ones are gone!") and all answer to the name Mohammed. In a scene that Sokoloff described, but didn't bring, Patton and his soldiers storm a courthouse that's about to remove the Ten Commandments and start opening fire on the people trying to stop them. "You can't shoot these people!" Malone says. "They're not people!" says Patton. "They're the ACLU!" At this point we see that the ACLU members are unkillable George Romero zombies.
Details about the movie were kept secret, on purpose, until this month. In February, it was reported that Kelsey Grammer would be Scrooge in the new movie. He's actually playing the ghost of George Patton, and Jon Voight is playing George Washington. In a clip we saw, Washington takes Malone to St. Paul's Cathedral to lecture him on freedom of religion and "freedom of speech, which you abuse." Malone is grossed out by dust in the priest's box, so the doors open onto the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center. "This is the dust of 3000 innocent human beings!" bellows Washington. Malone whimpers that he's just making movies. Washington won't have it. "Is that what you plan to say on Judgment Day?"
"That scene," said Sokoloff, "is hard to put in a comedy. But we had to do it."
The whole meeting had the tone of a FARC strategy session more than a fun publicity junket. This movie isn't just going to sell tickets (it'll open in 2000 theaters), it's going to liberate Hollywood's Republican untouchables and open the floodgates to more conservative films. "Last year you saw a bunch of anti-military movies like Redacted and In the Valley of Elah," Sokoloff said. "All of them had big stars, and, thank God, they bombed. America didn't want to see that stuff on screen. We have to show up to a movie that has our values. If this succeeds, if could change everything."
Sokoloff did worry about the last political comedy to hit theaters, Swing Vote. "People just didn't want to see something about the election," she mused. Is it a bad sign that both of the fictional politicians in that film, Dennis Hopper and Kelsey Grammer, are back in this? Probably not, actually. Swing Vote tried to tell a sappy Capra story divorced from real-world politics. This movie grabs the culture war by both horns and starts riding and hollering.