Parents' Guide to

An American Carol

By James Rocchi, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Right-wing political comedy just isn't funny.

Movie PG-13 2008 83 minutes
An American Carol Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 12+

One of the funniest movies we've ever seen as a family! 💥

age 17+

Conservative propaganda "comedy" that suggests that belief in any ideology other than the Republican party is un-American.

An American Carol is a failed attempt at Conservative comedy, and carries all the hallmark traits of Right-Wing propaganda. The entire, endlessly repeated message of the film is that humanistic "liberal" people are just wrong about everything and they're ruining the decent god-fearing, gun-loving "conservative" values that America supposedly built upon. This film has only one purpose, which is propaganda. Politically naive children and teens (and probably adults) should be steered away from this film at all costs, because it portrays wildly inaccurate depictions of people on both ends of the American political ideological spectrum, as well as alluding that African-Americans were better off as slaves and an overall skewed version of America's history. I can't even recommend this film as an example of well-made propaganda (like many of the terrific short films of the 1950s). The filmmaking, acting and storytelling is all sub-par, and the Zucker Brothers (who made such comedy masterpieces as Airplane! Top Secret! and Police Squad!/Naked Gun) should be ashamed of themselves for what I hope was just a quick paycheck (as opposed to having these reprehensible beliefs themselves).

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5 ):
Kids say (3 ):

AN AMERICAN CAROL is an incredibly uneasy mix of broad, slapstick comedy and ham-handed political commentary. For example, a scene mourning the victims of 9-11 is followed within seconds by the film's lead character banging his head repeatedly on some church bells. And the film, directed by Airplane! helmer David Zucker, seems to know exactly how uneven it is, with the characters themselves commenting on unlikely and uneven moments -- like a musical number led by a group of academics commenting on the left-wing "bias" of academia. Star Farley, the brother of deceased funnyman Chris Farley, is a fairly shameless comedic performer, and he throws himself into his pratfalls and stunts with vigor, but he doesn't have the acting skill to make us believe in, or care about, his ultimate transformation.

The film's throw-it-all-at-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks methodology results in scenes like a visit to a parallel America in which the Civil War was never fought and slavery is still legal, with the massed slaves singing the traditional Hebrew folk song "Hava Nagilah." There are also jokes about suicide bombing, terrorism, and murder -- and the mix of violence and comedy is remarkably uncomfortable. The contrast is huge; the comedy payoff miniscule. Culminating in a stop-the-bombs finale at a Madison Square Garden concert for America's troops -- and in Malone's reformation from a documentarian responsible for films like Die, American Pigs! to a filmmaker interested in showcasing the greatness of America -- An American Carol has a definite position and point of view, but it doesn't have a lot of laughs.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: October 3, 2008
  • On DVD or streaming: December 29, 2008
  • Cast: Jon Voight , Kelsey Grammer , Kevin Farley
  • Director: David Zucker
  • Studio: Vivendi
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Run time: 83 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: rude and irreverent content, and for language and brief drug material.
  • Last updated: June 20, 2023

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