LOS ANGELES -- "An American Carol" is coming to a theater near you, whether you like it or not.
The zany comedy, which promises to offend Hollywood's liberal sensibilities, will open on 2,000 screens across the United States on Oct. 3, just one month before the presidential election.
It is based loosely on "A Christmas Carol," except that, instead of Ebenezer Scrooge's learning an appreciation for Christmas, a Michael Moore-type filmmaker learns to respect the U.S.A. through visits from the ghosts of George Washington, George Patton and President Kennedy.
The cast includes such right-leaning actors as Kelsey Grammer and Jon Voight. The film was directed, co-written and produced by David Zucker, the filmmaker best known for a couple of "Scary Movie" sequels, as well as "The Naked Gun."
"Carol" isn't the only politically charged film set for wide release before voters head to the polls Nov. 4, but it's the only one making fun of Democrats. Oliver Stone's left-leaning film "W.," a warts-and-all biographical look at President George W. Bush, will be unveiled two weeks later.
With the Republican base so fired up since candidate John McCain selected Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, the timing for "Carol" couldn't be better.
"This is one of the most unusual elections of our lives, and Palin has injected even more energy into it," said Zucker. "The more people talk about the election, the better our movie will do, and the better Oliver Stone's movie will do."
Partial backing for "Carol" came from the nonpartisan Moving Picture Institute, which gave a grant to one of the film's writers, Myrna Sokoloff, to help the part-time schoolteacher finish her work on the script. It's the first wide release distributed by Vivendi Entertainment, which launched as a theatrical distribution company in March.
Zucker and Sokoloff are former liberals who displayed their transformation into conservatism four years ago when they partnered on a group of humorous TV commercials during the last presidential election cycle. The popularity of those ads encouraged them to make "Carol," with Sokoloff working on the story while Zucker and screenwriter Lewis Friedman focused on the jokes.
"The audience for 'American Carol' is underserved by Hollywood," said Zucker, noting that the $20 million film skewers such liberal sacred cows as the ACLU and the anti-war movement, two popular causes among the entertainment industry elite. "About 150 million people will love it, and 150 million people will hate it."
The film's strong political opinion has resulted in a lot of free publicity from the likes of CNN and Fox News, which doesn't surprise Vivendi Entertainment president Tom O'Malley.
"This is the first film I can think of from Hollywood that pokes fun at the left. That makes it fresh," O'Malley said.
© Thomson Reuters 2008. Reuters/Hollywood Reporter