An American Carol is an unlikely, outrageous and just slightly off-color twist on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Re-imagined post-9/11, this wacky morality tale substitutes a celebrated documentarian for Ebenezer Scrooge, the Fourth of July for Christmas, and General George Patton for the Ghost of Christmas Past. As relentless in it’s ribbing as it is in forcing us to reconsider the freedoms we enjoy so casually, the film challenges Scrooge and the audience to seriously question what it means to be an American in an Anit-American world.
It also roasts the hell out of anyone who takes themselves too seriously, be it Hollywood celebrities, award shows, jihadists, radical Christians or political pundits. Nothing is sacred as all boundaries are violated in this “never attempted before” controversial comedy laced with no shortage of humor…or heart.
The story starts with a Fourth of July barbecue, where the kids implore “Grandpa” (Leslie Nielsen) to tell one of his “famous” stories. As he begins his Independence Day, “once upon a time” rip-off of the Charles Dickens classic tale, we are introduced to highly lionized but extremely frustrated “wannabe” feature film director Michael Malone (Kevin Farley).
Struggling to be taken seriously and unable to get financing for his feature debut, Fascist America, Malone is having a really bad day. His latest documentary, Die, You American Pigs!, has just bombed at the box office; worse yet, he’s also having trouble getting his latest cause célèbre to take flight: he wants to abolish the Fourth of July holiday in protest of the corrupt American war machine and it’s foreign policy.
His family life is no better as Malone is also fightinging to maintain a meaningful relationship with his polar opposite nephew, Josh (Travis Schuldt), a Naval officer just days away from shipping off to Iraq, leaving behind a long-suffering wife and three sick children: Timmy, on crutches; Tiny Becca, blind and crossed-eyed; and tiny Tina, stoically awaiting a kidney.
Meanwhile, Malone’s America-bashing documentaries are so intensely popular in the Middle East that when a ruthless terrorist cell leader named Aziz (Robert Davi) and his two stooges – dimwitted freedom fighters Mohammed (Geoffrey Arend) and Ahmed (Serdar Kalsin), decide to find a Hollywood director to spruce up their suicide bomber recruitment video, they believe they’ve found the perfect patsy in Malone and head to America to enlist his talent. They trick him into making their film as his feature debut; seduced by their deep pockets, he accepts.
Thinking he is finally on the verge of being recognized as a serious auteur, Malone falls asleep watching his hero John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech on television, only to be jarred awake when the former President steps out of the screen and into his bedroom. JFK is disturbed by Malone’s selective memory and skewed understanding of history, and expresses utter disappointment at his political point-of-view. The dead president’s ghostly visit foretells three more American spirits who’ll come to call.
The next day, Malone is visited by the first spirit, General George C. Patton (Kelsey Grammer). Patton’s ghost takes him to various points in history to show that war is sometimes the answer. He also shows Malone the dire consequences of an America that never went to war.
Malone also encounters the spirit of President George Washington (played by Academy Award® winner Jon Voight); attends the historic Munich conference to see Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler; fights moaning ACLU zombies alongside a Supreme Court judge (played by Dennis Hopper); visits a present day slave plantation (the Civil War was fortunately averted); enjoys a show stopping musical number with college professors trapped in the sixties; is given a sincere glimpse into his nephew’s daily life as a solider; and has his face slapped, and stepped on, multiple times.
In the end, Malone faces the final spirit, the Angel of Death, a grim reaper perfectly embodied by 6’6″ country music superstar Trace Adkins.
Other actors who appear in cameo roles include Kevin Sorbo, Chris McDonald, David Alan Grier, Bill O’Reilly (as himself), Gail O’Grady and John O’Hurley.