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James B. Douglas
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At a July 4 barbecue, gramps tells the kids the story of Michael Malone, a documentary filmmaker and Michael Moore look-alike who hates America and wants to abolish July 4th. He refuses to celebrate with his nephew Josh, who's shipping out soon to the Middle East. That night, Michel has a vision of his hero, JFK, who predicts that three ghosts will visit Michael. Sure enough, General Patton, George Washington, and country music star Trace Adkins visit Michael show him the fruits of patriotism, just wars, and pacifism. Meanwhile, Arab terrorists want Malone to help them with a propaganda film. Is he the next Leni Riefenstahl or will he see the light? Written by
WARNING! This movie may be offensive to children, young people, old people, in-the-middle people, some people on the right, all people on the left, terrorists, pacifists, war-mongers, fish mongers, Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, agnostics (though you'd have to prove it to them), the ACLU, liberals, conservatives, neo-cons, ex-cons, future cons, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarian, people of color, people of no color, English speakers, English-as-a-second language speakers, non-speakers, men, women, more women, & Ivy League professors. Native Americans should be okay. See more »
In accordance with the film's strong political theme, the official Internet site used a grassroots pre-publicity marketing strategy. Users on the site, dubbed "American Carolers", could make use of online tools to email friends about the film, network with other fans, etc. Points were given based on participation, and prizes (tickets, posters, etc) were awarded to the highest scorers. The names of the top 16 "Carolers" are on the DVD, in the Bonus Features under "Special Thanks". See more »
The pew in St. Paul's chapel that the Washingtons used during President Washington's 15 months in New York is actually against the north wall. The movie puts it in the middle of the church. See more »
Foolishly, I ignored all the IMDb reviewer warnings, thinking maybe they were politically biased. I figured, being such a big fan of the ZAZ troupe's wacky sense of humour (Kentucky Fried, Airplane, Top Secret, Naked Gun), this would be a real treat.
I'll tell you exactly how it failed. No, it has nothing to do with the right wing agenda which doubtlessly will alienate a lot of moviegoers immediately; that didn't bother me at all (in fact it was an interesting surprise). Where this film failed was in its poor delivery of satire--something the ZAZ kids were famous for nailing with textbook precision. In order for satire to be successful, first the writer has to set up a clearly defined straightman/funnyman scenario. In the past, the ZAZ troupe broke this mold by indulging in pure deadpan satire where *everyone* is the straight man. Hilarious in its subtlety. But here we have a weird, juvenile approach where everyone is trying to be the funnyman. There's no comedic stability, and (especially without powerful gags to hold themselves up) the film comes across as a bunch of desperate birthday clowns trying to act wacky in order to entertain their audience. The harder they try, the unfunnier they get.
I just said a mouthful, so I'll try to back it up with some examples. First let's start with how to do it properly. Let's take the baseball scene in Naked Gun where the TV is showing "sports bloopers" which include outfielders losing limbs, getting run over by cars and getting mauled by tigers. What makes it hilarious is the fact that everyone is acting as if nothing is wrong. Everyone plays the straightman, and that's what makes it so bizarre & surreal.
Now let's skip to a failed scene in American Carol where the Michael Moore character is confronted with a vision of life in America if slavery had never been abolished. It's an obvious satire with actors running around saying "yes massa, no massa, don't beat me massa" but where it really flops is the way Michael Moore is horrified and feels remorse & regret. Bad comedy. See, the point of satire is to make the *audience* interpolate the moral of the story, not beat them over the head with it. We don't need to see the main character's epiphany punctuating every gag.
It's this sort of botched comedic approach that turns the whole film into one near miss after another. The few subtle, intelligent gags there were (like Patton slapping people... a reference to that scandal of his) were repeated so often and with such hamfisted overtness that they became stale.
I was really disappointed, not only because I was expecting a good film but also because I was looking forward to seeing Michael Moore get the ribbing he deserved (both liberals & conservatives can agree he's a fat hypocrite). But instead Zucker came across as the idiot kid in the playground who can't even come up with a good comeback against an easy target.
So yeah, add me to the list of IMDb reviewers warning you not to waste your time on this movie. It's just plain unfunny. If you want an example of great, funny, political satire, check out "Catch 22". Another recent one (though not necessarily political) is "Believe" released in 2007. I don't know if they're left- or right-winged, if that matters to you, but they're just plain funny.
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