2006 - PG-13 - 115 Mins.
|Director: Paul Weitz|
|Producer: Chris Weitz|
|Written By: Paul Weitz|
|Starring: Hugh Grant, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Willem Dafoe, Chris Klein, Sam Golzari |
|Review by: Joe Rickey
|Official Site: www.americandreamzmovie.com/|
A terrorist group tries to get a bumbling member on an "American Idol" like reality show so he can kill the President of the United States. Meanwhile, a cutthroat contestant is willing to do anything in order to win said contest in a film that fails miserably at satirizing pop culture and politics.
Self-hating Brit Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant) is a chronic womanizer and the host of America's number one show, the singing contest "American Dreamz." As he does this, newly re-elected President Staton (Dennis Quaid) has entered a state of depression after reading the newspaper, much to the chagrin of his Chief of Staff (Willem Dafoe) and the man responsible for making sure the none too bright president doesn't make a fool of himself. The two parties strike a deal for the President to appear as a judge on the season finale of the show as a way to boost his sagging approval rating.
Al Qaeda is happy to hear this as they put in motion a plan to get a music-loving member (Sam Golzari) on the show and to the finals so he can blow himself and the president up. He will have to beat out Sally Kendoo (Mandy Moore), a girl who will do literally anything in order to win, including pretending to love on-again, off-again boyfriend turned wounded war veteran William Williams (Chris Klein) and backstabbing anyone and everyone.
'American Dreamz' is a relentlessly disappointing film that has so many lost opportunities I lost count about halfway through. The film could have been a sharp and insightful satire of the influence of pop culture and politics but it is not to be. Instead, writer-director Paul Weitz goes for the simple and obvious joke at every turn. All the more disappointing considering he is responsible for Hugh Grant's best film in years with 'About a Boy.'
Firstly, the Dennis Quaid parody of President George W. Bush is lacking in character. Aside from a bland simple-mindedness, there is nothing to the character. Either the character wasn't written well or Quaid didn't take it far enough, whatever the cause the character never works. Ditto for Grant's Simon Cowell parody Martin Tweed though here most of the blame falls on the actor's performance. Grant seems perpetually bored at every turn and seemingly only concerned with the cashing of a paycheck. Mandy Moore's Sally Kendoo is a failure as well. The actor actually gives as good a performance as she possibly can but the character is so throughly unlikeable that you won't care about anything concerning her character.
Weitz goes after easy targets such as terrorists, a show that has almost become a parody of itself in the first place, and a President that has done the same. Late shows have mined the humor surrounding Bush so completely that what is offered here is certainly nothing new or fresh, let alone funny. His satire of terrorism is soft and simple, never going for the proverbial jugular and instead making the terrorists look better than anyone else in the film, something so incredibly insulting it's surprising no one informed him that such a portrayal isn't going to be looked on favorably.
In summation, 'American Dreamz' is a truly worthless film, tired and/or obvious in every frame.