October 3, 2008, - 5:07 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Took me a while to post my movie reviews, today, because the two biggest movies–at least, in my mind–involved one movie that didn’t have screenings (to keep out biased liberals), “An American Carol”; and another which excluded me from screening it because it is extremely liberal and they didn’t want a good conservative with reason (me) to review it, “Religulous”. Because of the Jewish Holidays, etc., I was unable to screen most of the other new releases out this weekend, but will try to see them and post reviews, later. I did see “Blindness” and “Fireproof.”
* “An American Carol“: This was not screened for movie critics, who are mostly liberal and would savage it, so I paid to see it, this afternoon. The studio was stupid in not sending me a screener, so I could have posted this very favorable review earlier. I liked it a lot.
I was shocked with how good it is. I expected it to me stupid, since conservatives aren’t known for their sense of humor and most attempts come off as stupid exercises in ideology. But this wasn’t that. It was hilarious. Yes, some of the jokes and gags were stupid, but most weren’t. I found myself laughing in humor–and also in agreement–with this movie more than I do many mainstream major movie comedies.
The plot: It’s the Fourth of July, and a goofy grandfather, Leslie Nielsen, is telling his grandchildren a fairy tale about the grinch who stole Independence Day. Only it’s not a grinch. It’s Michael Moore, er . . . “Michael Malone.” And it’s a true story, not a fairy tale.
Moore/Malone wants to eliminate the Fourth of July and has enlisted a number of liberal groups to do it with him. Meanwhile, Islamic terrorists want to recruit Moore to do a terrorist movie for them, to make it easier to recruit jihadists. Moore’s nephew is in the military and wants Uncle Mike to understand why what he’s doing is harming America. It takes three ghosts of characters past–John F. Kennedy, General George S. Patton, and George Washington–to teach Michael Moore, er . . . “Malone” a lesson. Yes, it’s a take-off of Scrooge or “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
There are so many funny, oh-yeah, yes-yes-yes! moments in this movie, I laughed out loud a lot and so did the other people in the theater.
Surprisingly, a lot of B-list celebs made cameos in the movie, in addition to the starring role played by Kelsey Grammer (Gen. Patton). The list includes Paris Hilton, Kevin Sorbo, Gary Coleman, David Alan Grier, Jon Voight, James Woods, and Dennis Hopper (thought he was a big lib, but I guess I’m wrong).
The movie does a great job of skewering everything from ACLU lawyers to Rosie O’Donnell (the actress playing her is a dead-ringer and spot on) to MoveOn.org to Hollywood . . . and, of course, Michael Moore and his “Sicko” documentary. The best two parts are when Rosie O’Donnell shows a documentary about radical Christian terrorists on the “O’Reilly Factor” (yes, that’s a downer in the movie–the repeated presence of blowhard and pseudo-conservative Loofah/Falafel champ O’Reilly); and when we are shown the famed HOLLYWOOD sign in the Hills changed to an “ALLAHU AKBAR” sign and signs for “Victoria’s Burka” lingerie stores.
The ending was kinda sappy and not believable. I would have preferred the “Team America: World Police” ending for Michael Moore. But this’ll do. The only other negative is the repeated jokes about how he’s only a documentarian, not a feature film maker. But documentaries have their place, when they’re done accurately and correctly and illuminate an important issue or subject. That’s the point–what Moore makes isn’t documentary, it’s propaganda.
If anyone from the producing team of “An American Carol” is reading this review, please, I beg of you, send me the prop poster of Michael Moore/”Malone’s” movie, “Die You American Pigs.” (His other movies are “Shame on You, America,” and “America Sucks a Big One.”) It’s funny seeing Moore in the poster with a keffiyeh around his neck and an AK-47 in his arms. It’s what we know Moore is really about. If only he’d admit to it in real life.
Let’s hope that “Carol” is just a start for movies like it and a prelude to a lot more. You don’t have to be a conservative to love this movie, just a proud American. Funny and worth the money.
* “Religulous“: Though most other Detroit-area movie critics were invited to this screening, I was specifically excluded, and I think we know why. They knew I’d hate it. And guess what? I did.
This movie mocks all religion and goes with the Rosie O’Donnell theorem that Judaism and Christianity are morally equivalent to Islam and Islamic terrorism: that we’re all equally extreme and deadly. Um, how many Jews or Christians directed planes into tall buildings recently? He doesn’t address that because it would get in the way of his faulty thesis that Judaism and Christianity are as responsible for contemporary bombings and acts of terrorism as Islam is. Anyone who believes that BS must provide the evidence and Bill doesn’t have any.
Maher begins by saying that he’s not atheist, but agnostic. He doesn’t know what exists. But it’s a fraudulent premise: Anyone who knows anything about Bill–whom I know and dislike–knows that he’s an avowed atheist and has been for some time, though he just won’t admit to it. He’s against religion, and, in case you couldn’t figure it out, he basically lets you know at the end what he thinks of all religion.
Part of the problem is that Maher was born to a Jewish mother and Catholic father who confused him and weren’t truly committed to anything. We meet his mother and sister and learn about his early religious life.
And Maher perpetrates more fraud on the people in this movie. At the Trucker’s Chapel, he tells the Christian truckers that they’re smart people and that’s why he can’t understand why they believe in Christianity. But he’s lying. He thinks they’re dummies, just as he does everyone else in the movie who is a person of faith. He has smug contempt for them.
Then, there’s his choices of interview subjects. Maher chooses the most extreme and ridiculous representatives of Judaism and Christianity in order to mock them. An example: He interviews Yisroel Dovid Weiss, the outcast Orthodox Jewish Rabbi who hangs with Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and is believed to be on his payroll. I call Weiss “Hezbollah’s Rabbi.” Every segment of Judaism has basically excommunicated him, but now I have him–thanks to Bill Maher–as my pseudo-representative of religious Judaism. And Bill knows better. Yet, he chooses to perpetuate this fraud anyway.
The people I respected most in this movie are the ones who pointedly declined to participate–the Mormons (although two former Mormons of course obliged to trash their faith) and a Christian trucker at the Trucker Chapel. They passed the IQ test. They knew that no matter what they said, it would be a casualty of Bill Maher’s editing and fall to his cutting room floor.
Bill Maher used to claim to be a libertarian, but libertarians wouldn’t be at war with me for my beliefs and out to tell me what to think. They’d leave me alone. Bill Maher doesn’t do that. He’s out to get rid of our beliefs and change us. Maher is just as much a zealot against religion as many of the more civilized examples of religion that he sets out to ridicule and discount. In fact, he’s more zealous.
The only good parts of the movie were when Maher interviewed Muslims, because as we all know, they endorse violence. And support for violence is the mainstream of that religion. A couple of corrections to the movie: A Muslim cleric in Amsterdam says Islam means “peace.” Wrong. It means submission. The know-it-all Maher didn’t correct him.
Also, the imam of the Dome of the Rock mosque, built on top of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem talked about how Mohammed allegedly descended from that very spot on a horse and claimed the Koran says so. But the Koran says nothing of the sort, and in fact, neither Jerusalem nor the Dome of the Rock are mentioned a single time in the Koran. I’ve written about how the story got changed in 682 CE, for political reasons, by an Islamic leader, Abd Al-Malik, the Ummayad Caliph, because he didn’t have access to Saudi Arabia for his Islamic population to make the hajj (the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca). Maher doesn’t know this either, because he’s actually more of an ignoramus than his arrogant persona will let on.
Bill once told me on ABC’s “Politically Incorrect” that Keith Richards–who admitted to snorting his father’s ashes–has had a much better life than me because he smoked endless pot and slept with endless groupies. That’s how Bill Maher measures life and he lets us know it when an evangelical at the Trucker’s Chapel says he left a life of drugs and sleeping around to become a good Christian. And we can’t have that.
Maher notes that America has the most believers in creationism and religious Christianity of any Western industrialized democracy, but he fails to show why that’s bad. It’s America’s strong evangelical Christian heritage and continuing religious Christian ethos that is the reason we haven’t yet fallen to Islamic invasion and Islamists’ values the way all of the other countries he listed, have. He doesn’t tell you that, though. Shocker.
(For the record, I myself believe in both evolution and Creation as it is described in the Bible. It’s the view of several noted Jewish Biblical commentators that a “day” in Genesis might mean several million or a billion years. I don’t believe the theories are incompatible, and there are several notable books by Jewish Biblical scholars about how evolution proves the Bible.)
Yes, there are some funny parts, at which I laughed. As we all know, Bill Maher is not just completely rude and obnoxious, he’s a quick wit. But so what? The movie stank under the weight of his dripping arrogance.
Incidentally, when I came out of the movie, there was a man from the atheist Center for Inquiry manning a propaganda table and passing out literature, right outside the particular theater, but inside the movie theater building itself. I’ve e-mailed theater owner Mark Cuban to find out if he allows this kind of politics in his theaters. Strangely, there were no tables manned by Christians. I wonder why. Actually, I don’t wonder. It’s a safe bet they weren’t invited.
BTW, don’t forget my previous column, “Bill Maher Passes Gas in America’s Face“. Remember, he wanted the price of gas to go up so high it would be prohibitive for the average American. Another one of his great theories.
* “Blindness“: A plague of complete blindness starts to strike people at random. But it’s contagious. One of those struck is ophthalmologist Mark Ruffalo, after one of his patients comes down with it.
Soon, he and all of his patients are quarantined to an old hospital ward to fend for themselves. His wife, Julianne Moore, can see and mysteriously doesn’t go blind (the movie curiously never explains why), but she fakes it to go with him to the ward.
The patients must deal with filth and squalor as they try to live and perform normal human functions with no sight and no-one to care for them. And gangs and brutality develop.
This movie began as a different, interesting movie. But it degraded into a violent, disgusting doomsday movie without anything of interest to go along with it. The two scenes of mass rape and torture lost me and ruined the movie.
Although the movie ends on an up note, that doesn’t excuse the wanton, gratuitous violence that didn’t help the story. Violence and blood has its place in more interesting doomsday movies, like “28 Days Later,” but this one is far inferior and very unworthy of your ten bucks.
* “Fireproof“: This independent Christian production was well-made, given the shoestring budget. I respect religious Christians and understand why Christianity was pushed in this movie, even though I don’t believe in it. However, I think filmmakers would have been more successful with their message, had it been more subtle.
Kirk Cameron plays a fireman who is having problems in his marriage. His wife doesn’t love him anymore and is interested in someone else. He uses a book, “The Love Dare”, to try to bring his marriage back together. At first, it’s very frustrating.
I could have done without all the fighting and yelling, but that’s was a major element of the story. Also, the story ended a little too neatly and sort of defied belief.