A film that sentimentalizes and softens what was clearly a very difficult situation, turning something that should be effective and honest into something that too…
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"All the really good suicide bombers are gone," laments a trio of bumbling Afghan terrorists early on in "An American Carol," and that's about the high-water mark for humor in this jaw-droppingly awful political comedy from veteran spoofer David Zucker.
-- Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer
After "An American Carol" opened in some cities last week, RogerEbert.com received a few insinuating inquiries from readers asking why we did not publish a review of the film , a biographical musical celebration of the beloved wide-mouthed Broadway star of "Hello, Dolly!". The comedy, directed and co-written by David Zucker ("Airplane!"), is a conservative re-telling of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol, with a fat, unscrupulous, bespectacled, baseball-capped, America-hating documentarian named Michael Malone (played by the late Chris Farley's brother Kevin) as the Scrooge figure. Our correspondents suggested that, because the movie's politics reportedly tilted to the right, perhaps the liberal falafel-loving media establishment was deliberately ignoring it. (Meanwhile, the conservative corporate media establishment was evidently off celebrating a lonely cinematic triumph in a quiet place.)
Oddly, we did not receive a single comment or e-mail asking why we did not carry a review of "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," the Number One Movie of last weekend, but the reasons are the same: neither "An American Carol" nor "BHC" were screened for critics. That is usually the studios' way of ensuring that reviews do not appear on opening day. If any critic-type person still wants to cover it, he or she can simply buy a ticket to a show on Friday or Saturday and file a notice over the weekend.
RottenTomatoes lists 65 reviews for "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" (27 positive), 119 for "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" (85 positive), and 28 for "An American Carol" (4 positive), all of which opened the same day.
To help fill in the critical information gap, are some excerpts from the few higher-profile "American Carol" reviews I could find, some of which are kind of funny. The first one is from a review RT.com categorizes as "fresh":