My name is Gordon Winslow, and I am a conservative.
There, I said it.
How conservative am I? I have a big problem with George Bush and John McCain–they’re too liberal. I supported Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson in the primaries. I love me some Sarah Palin (even before she shot a Sasquatch). I worship Ronald Reagan.
This isn’t always an easy thing in the People’s Republic of Austin. Once you’re outed, it isn’t unusual for people to flat-out dislike you. I watched the first presidential debate at the Alamo Drafthouse (a theater that serves beer, woo hoo!) and was the only open McCain supporter in the whole venue. The guy running the event was cool–he gave me two free passes for being brave enough to represent. But as I was leaving, this aged former flower child gave me an evil stare that pretty much said, “Drop dead. Now.”
So it does get lonely for a conservative in Austin sometimes.
Now, it’s no secret that Hollywood is pretty leftist. Of course this means that movies that have a point of view have a liberal point of view. Even films that should be apolitical often can’t resist taking a shot at my side (Wall-E for example).
There are movies made for conservatives–social conservatives. Religious films often do quite well. But I’m not really a social conservative. I’m more of a libertarian-leaning hawk. While I thought The Passion of the Christ was a tremendously good movie, it isn’t my religion that I would like to see represented on screen more, but my ideology. It happens sometimes, but usually in code. I suspect Spider-Man director Sam Raimi may be what Fandon the Fun Marshal (my housemate and the only other conservative in Austin) and I affectionately call “One of Us,” mostly based on the terrific Spider-Man 2. And a convincing case has been made that in The Dark Knight, Batman represents George W. Bush in the war on terror–he faces moral dilemmas and gray areas, and he makes mistakes, but overall he’s in the right in fighting a monstrous and irrational evil. You might find this silly, but this English degree holder thought it was a clever and valid interpretation. (Yes, I am the only Republican with an English degree.)
But movies with an out-and-out conservative point of view are rare. Liberals can go to any number of anti Iraq War movies (although they’ve largely chosen not to), but there aren’t any pro Iraq War movies.
All of which brings us to An American Carol.
An American Carol is directed by Airplane! and Naked Gun director David Zucker, and it’s an interesting experiment–make a slapstick comedy about the War on Terror from a conservative point of view. Market it through conservative media. See if anyone shows up.
Well, they got me with that. I felt like I had to go, due to both curiosity and a desire to support conservative film–if this one bombs, will there ever be another one? So I grabbed Fandon the Fun Marshal and off we went.
An American Carol, loosely based on A Christmas Carol, is about documentary filmmaker Michael Malone (director of Die, You American Pigs!), played very well by Chris Farley’s brother, Kevin. (I hope he hasn’t destroyed his career by appearing in this.) Michael Malone is organizing left-wing groups to abolish the Fourth of July as a holiday, and he’s launching this effort at the world’s largest peace march. The peace march is taking place on our nation’s birthday, in front of Madison Square Garden, where a huge country music concert is being held for our troops.
When Malone is at home watching television the night before the march, JFK comes through the screen to tell him that there are a lot of things he doesn’t understand, and that three spirits will visit him. The ghost of Patton (Kelsey Grammer) then takes Malone on a tour through history and the present day–what if Lincoln hadn’t fought the Civil War? Did Neville Chamberlain bring us peace, or only horror? War is not the answer? Well, sometimes, unfortunately, it is.
Oh, yeah. Also, terrorists are using Malone’s ability to get press passes to attempt to blow up the concert and the troops in attendance.
This all comes with the trademark Zucker slapstick.
Obviously a labor of love, the movie features just about every “out” conservative in Hollywood: Kelsey Grammer, Robert Davi, James Woods, Jon Voight, Dennis Hopper (One of Us, believe it or not)…yep, that’s pretty much all of them. (Also a funny bit part from Kevin Sorbo, who I miss. Bring back Hercules!)
So is it any good? Fandon the Fun Marshal thought it was terrible. I thought it was cute, but I have a much higher tolerance for corniness than the average male. It is awkward at times and fell flat a lot, but there are some very funny moments–Hitler singing “Kum Ba Yah” is pretty great. It isn’t mean-spirited–you feel sorry for Malone, you don’t hate him. And it is, at times, touching–the unabashed and unashamed love of America and the men and women who keep her free warmed this patriot’s heart.
If the preceding sounds horrible to you, which it likely does, skip it. If you aren’t completely repulsed, it’s a good time-waster–I could see it becoming a cable TV staple. Far from great, but I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the effort.
Anyway, here’s the trailer:
And here are some clips that will give you a pretty good sense of it.
The best (and only) recent openly-conservative comedy was released in 2004. Here’s a nice musical number.
I think a liberal theater manager was having a little fun with the small audience. The previews before An American Carol were for Oliver Stone’s W and Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon, which served to drive home just how much of a piñata conservatives generally are for Hollywood. Both movies look awful. If they hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t have realized the guy playing Nixon was supposed to be playing Nixon.