American Dreamz (2006)

DVD Cover (Universal)
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Overall Rating 55%
Overall Rating
Ranked #2,732
...out of 12,584 movies
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Genres / Traits: Comedy Satire Reality Television

The new season of "American Dreamz," the wildly popular television singing contest, has captured the country's attention, as the competition looks to be between a young Midwestern gal and a showtunes-loving young man from Orange County. Recently awakened President Staton even wants in on the craze, as he signs up for the potential explosive season finale. --IMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: April 24, 2006
Paul Weitz is not a bad director. Despite the teenage schlock that was "American Pie", his previous two efforts - "About A Boy" and "In Good Company" - have been highly entertaining and highly successful films. He has a knack for being heartfelt and satiric at the same time, and I guess he was attempting to capitalize on this ability with "American Dreamz", his latest comedy that takes on the worlds of "American Idol", the United States Presidency, terrorism, and the Nielsen Ratings. The end result is something of an enigma - a film that doesn't know what the hell it wants to be; a film that tries its best to make us laugh, but too many times makes us cringe instead. "American Dreamz" was like an ice cream sundae of all the other Paul Weitz films, but there was absolutely no cherry on top. This was one of the worst films of the year, and an utter disappointment.

The film centers around a television show entitled "American Dreamz", where contestants are chosen and asked to sing, while American votes. Sound familiar. Hugh Grant stars as Martin Tweed, the creator and host of the show, who is tired of the same old bloody contestants and decides he wants an Arab and a Jew. Dennis Quaid stars as President Staton, an obvious George W. rip-off, who decides he doesn't want to make public appearances and would rather brush up on his Middle Eastern politics. Mandy Moore is Sally Kendoo, one of the contestants on the show, who wants desperately to win, at all costs. There are also some side stories, one involving a young Middle Eastern man who is planning to kill the President on national television and another involving the White House Chief of Staff (Willem Dafoe) trying to brainwash the President. There is just way too much going on in this film, and most of it is really boring. I can't think of one single belly laugh I had during this film. Towards the end of the picture, I found myself cringing at how tasteless the scenes were and how they accomplished nothing.

The storylines in the film are too muddled. We see the President acting as ignorant and as dumb as possible. Big stretch there. The great thing about good satire is that it is typically intelligent and biting. This is just lazy. And what's the deal with the President anyways? We never really understand why he is acting so strangely and we really don't care. As for Hugh Grant's character - it is definitely the most villainous character he has played. There is nothing likable about him. Then, at the end, when we see his face on the big screen, it's interesting to know if the filmmaker was trying to evoke emotion and sympathy? I hope not. If so, he failed. Mandy Moore was probably the best thing about the film, but she was essentially the same character she was in "Saved!". Kudos to Jennifer Coolidge and Marcia Gay Harden for adding a couple of momentary bright spots to this mess of cinema. I just can't see how there can be such controversy over a film like the forthcoming "United 93" when a film like "American Dreamz" is allowed to show terrorist training camps and show the President almost blown to bits. It didn't bother me that this was happening, I was just reminded of the hypocrisy of it all.

The performances are, mostly, lame and uninvolving. Hugh Grant and Dennis Quaid are equally abysmal here in two roles that belong in the gutter. Willem Dafoe looks like he's having more fun than ever, but he is really given very little to do. And, poor Chris Klein really needs to make another career move... and quick. As mentioned earlier, it's like director Paul Weitz took actors from each of his previous films, gave them a script he penned on the toilet one night, and just let the cameras roll. Bad idea. "American Dreamz" is a disaster from start to finish, one of the worst wastes of my time in 2006, and a true testament to how Hollywood likes to set double standards. I feel dumber for having seen this film. I feel as if that energy would have been better spent licking envelopes or catching lightning bugs, or even painting a perfect stranger's house.

There comes a point in "American Dreamz" when the film stops trying at satire and turns into just another "American Pie" type film, with singing and montages and everything else I hate about cinema. There comes a point in "American Dreamz" when everything we have seen with these characters previously is thrown out the door and we are given a whole new set of characters with a whole new set of morals and problems. Paul Weitz didn't know what in the hell he wanted to do with this film and it drips from each and every scene. It is fitting that the film bombed at the box office, especially when there is a true satire like "Thank You for Smoking" still on movie screens across the country. That is how you do satire.

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