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Star-Spangled Banter?

October 8, 2008 By:
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Michael Malone (Kevin Farley) more than welcomes an assault from the right in "An American Carol." Photo courtesy of Vivendi Entertainment
Right on?

The left gets smacked about a bit in "An American Carol" -- Shirley, you remember its director/producer/co-writer David Zucker from "Airplane!" and the bump of brash, broad comedies that followed -- with none other than Bill O'Reilly providing the spin factor: He slaps a Michael Moore stand-in (a character named Michael Malone, portrayed by Kevin Farley) so hard, his head seems to spin 90 degrees, which, of course, is a right angle.

Give it that old electoral college try -- and that's exactly what Myrna Sokoloff, the movie's co-writer/exec producer, has done with this red, blue and wide slapshtick look at patriotism, millennium style.

Giving hell to the Charles Dickens conceit of A Christmas Carol, this one takes his ghosts and prose, and recasts them with neocons, as Malone -- playing left field for the visitors -- attempts to abolish July 4 as a holiday.

Firecracker fatwah? Give him libertarian, or give him deafness: He seems immune to hearing how absurd his goal is and what the country stands for until flagged by the right.

It's all a star-spangled spunky first film for Sokoloff, who socks it to the left with a liberal dose of shots that should have Rush Limbaugh rushing to her defense.

It wasn't always this way for the teacher and writer; after all, she earned a master's from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion using a vocabulary going from right to left.

What changed it all? Paying attention to the emergency call of 9/11.

"Both David and I changed politically after that," she says of the about-face that liberated the liberals and pals from their previous positions.

"I was part of Hollywood's very left establishment and worked in politics for the Democratic Party. But I was [increasingly] uncomfortable with the feminists who wouldn't come out against Clinton in the middle of the [Monica] Lewinsky scandal," reasoning it was better to let that pass under the table than endanger a liberal agenda.

"That's the moment when I said, 'What am I doing here?' " realizing that sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar.

Adding petrol to the perverse reasoning put forward by some on the left, she figured, was the post-9/11 contention "that America was behind the attack."

Writing on the Wall

Oh, say, can you see by the star's dawning enlightenment? The Boston U. grad who majored in religion and philosophy before going to HUC-JIR -- and who "still teaches Shabbat programs at my synagogue, which keeps me grounded" -- saw the writing on the wall, and it was all a blackboard jungle out there.

She and colleague Zucker wanted change -- for themselves. "We belong to the Jewish Republican Coalition -- we didn't even believe there existed such a group in Hollywood!"

After she and Zucker worked on an anti-John Kerry ad during the last presidential campaign, she got her current courage: "We thought that maybe we can write a movie" from the right's perspective.

Calling Linda Blair? "Our friends," she laughs, "wanted to do an exorcism."

Holy ... water! Irony of ironies, with "Carol," they're ironing out their perspectives abetted by the producers of Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ."

But their passion is decidedly not a screed on screen, but a scoreboard of Americana, she says, electing to come out just before the Nov. 4 election. "It wouldn't have the same impact next year."

For the left, their "truth" may feel like an impacted tooth: The result of the star-spangled banter? "We're trying to show America is a force for good, unlike the left, which says America's at fault for everything. We're trying to show that appeasement of the enemy never works; that it's important to honor our troops; and that our country was founded by people of faith."

She keeps the faith herself as an active member of a Reform temple. Is she in fast company this Yom Kippur? Do her fellow congregants support this trooper? "They support me ... personally ... but are split down the middle on what I am doing."

It's not limited to her synagogue; there's no covenant among her own family when it comes to this career arc. "Even my relatives in Connecticut can't agree on what they think about my making this film."

Could be worse.

They could be living in Alaska.


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