Runtime: 1 hr 47 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Paul Weitz
Starring: Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid, Mandy Moore, Willem Dafoe, Chris Klein, Jennifer Coolidge, Sam Golzari
AMERICAN DREAMZ isn't a very smartly written comedy.
Review by: SteveRhodes
Added: 7 years ago
So do you think the war on terror is one big joke? When you think of al Qaeda, do you picture them as the Marx Brothers with big, bushy beards, who are ineffective and complete idiots? Do you view our president as a complete zero and a catatonic moron? And do you find the idea of presidential assassinations and suicide bombers especially humorous?
Well, if you do, I might have just the movie for you, AMERICAN DREAMZ. However, even if you do buy all of the above, AMERICAN DREAMZ is comedy that, for all its heavy-handed political satire, just isn't funny. It is so DOA that I suspect even those whose politics it preaches to will find little to chuckle at. Certainly our packed audience was not exactly enthused, with random snickers being about the best the movie got.
Broad comedies frequently try to offend everyone. This one even includes poking fun at our soldiers' bravery during a time of war, but AMERICAN DREAMZ isn't a very smartly written comedy. WAG THE DOG brilliantly skewered some similar subjects to those ridiculed in AMERICAN DREAMZ. Writer Paul Weitz, whose uneven work includes the painfully bad NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPS as well as the delightful and insightful ABOUT A BOY, seems devoid of much to say this time other than that he thinks the war on terror is stupid, and, hey, isn't that funny?
This sermonette of a picture is wrapped around a story about an "American Idol" like TV show, which is called "American Dreamz." This inner part of the movie, starring Hugh Grant as a proud-to-be-obnoxious host named Martin Tweed, is sometimes cute and easily the only part of the story that ever works. Central to this portion is Mandy Moore's performance as Sally Kendoo, a middleclass girl who is willing to be called white trash and to be engaged to a soldier she doesn't love in order to improve her odds of taking home the big trophy. As her hubby-to-be, Chris Klein plays William Williams, a wounded Iraqi war veteran, whom the movie lampoons.
The most dismal performance, if that is what his energy-less effort can be called, comes from Dennis Quaid as the president. Even if the movie does not actually call him George Bush, it goes to great pains to include every similarity and parody of the president it can think of, from being religious to being someone whose father was a president as well, in order to make sure we get the point. Subtlety is not something this movie ever attempts. But even dyed-in-the-wool Bush bashers will find little to like in Quaid's dismal work, which makes the president look like someone who has had a lobotomy and is suffering from a bad case of ulcers. A mannequin could have acted about as effectively as Quaid.
The film's gooey ending, which suggests that sleeper cells in American aren't really much of a danger after all so long as the terrorists just learn to love our country, manages to be the best part of a sorry story.
AMERICAN DREAMZ runs too long at 1:47. It is rated PG-13 for "brief strong language and some sexual references" and would be acceptable for teenagers.