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Overall Rating

Awesome: 1.67%
Worth A Look56.67%
Average: 6.67%
Pretty Bad: 8.33%
Total Crap: 26.67%

7 reviews, 18 user ratings

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American Dreamz
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Laura Kyle

"What do Kelly Clarkson and President Bush have in common?"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: ...Paul Weitz is making fun of them! Writer/director Paul Weitz takes a breather from the Character-Driven Comedy (In Good Company, About a Boy, American Pie) with American Dreamz, a progressively wacky satire blatantly poking fun at the current presidential administration and the hit TV show "American Idol."

Hugh Grant is Martin Tweedy, a pompous Brit (shock!) and host of the popular televised singing contest "American Dreamz." This year, the show has a new gimmick: an ethnically-diverse cast; Tweedy decides on a whim to rig the show so that an Arab and a Jew make it to the final three. But they'll have company, as Mandy Moore plays ambitious contestant Sally Kendoo, a perky blond more determined to win than meets the eye.

Dennis Quaid is the US President, who reads the newspaper for the first time in years and, overwhelmed by the disconcerting headlines, gives up on running the country. The Vice President, who looks more like Dick Cheney than the fictional VP did in Day After Tomorrow, is worried about his boss' new obsession with world issues and signs him onto "American Dreamz" to be a surprise guest judge in its final episode, so as to improve public opinion. Oh, and here's the best part: Willem Dafoe is the VP.

Little do these characters know about the Plot Twist though: the handpicked Middle-Eastern contestant (Sam Golzari) was sent to the States as a terrorist, and now he's got the perfect opportunity to blow up the Pres.

Don't worry, I haven't spoiled a thing this is all in the exposition.

American Dreamz is a convoluted, goofy flick that takes on American culture by picking on the country's government and favorite television show. None of the characters serve any further purpose than to help Weitz make comments about their real-life counterparts (Simon Cowell, Kelly Clarkson -- loosely, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, First Lady Bush) and/or society as a whole. American Dreamz is plainly an indulgent spoof, with fairly easy targets, but it's a total laugh-fest. And while its humor is sometimes broad and biting, it's mostly just enjoyably silly.

But the film's strength is also its Achilles' Heel. American Dreamz builds on a series of inside jokes and if you've never watched an episode of "American Idol," you simply may not get it.

Weitz made a bet that most of his audience would indeed get it, though. And based on his film's reception so far, I think it was a good bet.

But even if moviegoers aren't up for the zany plot, the cast might keep them intrigued. Mandy Moore is once again, awesome. I'm not sure why I keep letting her surprise me; she's been good in every movie I've seen her in, even when the movie itself sucked. Hugh Grant does his usual shtick beautifully and I can't imagine a better actor to portray the bombastic "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell. Dennis Quaid is hysterical as the newly awakened Leader of the Free World who still can't help his stupidity and Dafoe's perfect as his patronizing VP. Even the minor roles I don't have time to mention here are hilariously delivered.

American Dreamz covers a whole lot of ground and what a relief it is that Paul Weitz is one of the first filmmakers to thoroughly tackle this subject matter, because he does it so well.

You could even say Weitz is picking up some of the slack for "Saturday Night Live" (which has been justifiably dwindling in popularity over the years). Still, American Dreamz will ultimately sink or swim based on a moviegoers' pop culture IQ.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 03/26/06 13:24:34
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival For more in the 2006 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/22/09 Jeff Wilder Had potential. But ultimately too defanged and hamstrung by a one-joke premise. 2 stars
3/30/09 R Lan Three words: This was terrible! 1 stars
3/11/07 Ryan_A Completely misses the mark, though not for lack of trying. Moore's good, as is Grant 2 stars
1/28/07 Brittle Miss Sunshine C'mon,Peter Sobczynski,don't insult this by classing with FREEDOMLAND orSUPER EX-GRLFRND! 4 stars
1/17/07 Cassandra Lund Film's only commonality with GW Bush is either'd be better than a Hillary admenstruation! 4 stars
10/31/06 ES They advertised this as a 'president does tv' movie? Ok ,way too long and not that smart 2 stars
7/10/06 Cheryl Stitt Yep, early reference to ovine proctophagy gives rest of movie harder act than it can follow 2 stars
6/21/06 Carmen Mistletoe Dr Phil ad on efilmcritic -- it's really going to pot! Dafoe in Dick Cheney makeup? Huunh? 5 stars
5/26/06 The Velcro Warlock After early talk 'tween Sally & her brother, disappointing lack of "scatliogical" humor! 3 stars
4/30/06 john bale Some truth & laughs, lightweight satire on Reality TV and Geo. Bush 4 stars
4/28/06 Alex Paquin "Network" for the younger crowd, better than I expected 3 stars
4/28/06 Jen Wilson Horrible idea... Horrible Execution 2 stars
4/25/06 Mase Misses more than hits, the script sparkles at times but just overloads. 3 stars
4/25/06 Fred Liitle humor, a lot of Bush-hating mean spiritedness 1 stars
4/22/06 dee Just a pitiful excuse for satire! Not smart, not witty, not good! 1 stars
4/22/06 jt This movie really really stunk! The review is dead on target - the Simpson's had far more 1 stars
4/07/06 Riki What? Seriously?! 3 stars
4/05/06 Jeff Movie was great. Makes you think! 4 stars
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  21-Apr-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 17-Oct-2006



[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Paul Weitz

Written by
  Paul Weitz

  Dennis Quaid
  Hugh Grant
  Mandy Moore
  Willem Dafoe
  Marcia Gay Harden
  Chris Klein

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