DVD Review: American Dreamz
By Jeff Swindoll Oct 26, 2006, 18:47 GMT
A satire who focuses on reality shows like American Idol. Sally\'s dream is to become a music star and to participate in American Dreamz show. In order to achieve this, she leaves her boyfriend and mixes up with the host of the program. Meanwhile, an Arabian boy travels to the USA to visit their relatives and, accidentally, he becomes a participant of the show. The president of the USA is ...more
“American Dreamz, dreams with a z”
Imagine a president, a terrorist, and a Midwestern gal colliding on America’s most popular television show and you have the basic plot of American Dreamz.
Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant) is the host of America’s number one television show. It’s called American Dreamz (think American Idol) and the contests sing under the self-loathing eye of Martin (think a nicer Simon Cowell) and either continue or are thrown off the show. President Stanton (Dennis Quaid) has just won re-election and to celebrate he decides to read a newspaper. Not a good idea, since he finds out that the world is not in very good shape.
He then decides to not leave the presidential bedroom until he can research all the problems of the world. The First Lady (Marcia Gay Harden) and his Chief of Staff (Willem Dafoe, in Dick Cheney makeup) are worried about the President, but the Chief of Staff is more worried about he President’s approval numbers. To increase them the Chief of Staff arranges for President Stanton to appear as a guest judges on the finale of American Dreamz.
Meanwhile, Omer (Sam Golzari) is a failed terrorist. He’s all thumbs and even worse he loves show tunes. His terrorist leaders decide to get rid of him and send him to the United States to join his sleeper cell (and never wake up they hope). Omer hopes to never awaken (called to duty), but when he is singing in his effeminate cousin’s stage in the garage and the American Dreamz people come looking for contestants. Omer’s cousin had entered but the contest, but Omer is the one that ends up on the show.
Omer is excited, but his terrorist masters are even more excited when they learn that President Stanton is to be on the show and Omer has an opportunity to bomb, though not in performance but to blow up the President.
Meanwhile (again), Sally Kendoo (Mandy Moore) has won a place on the show and will do anything to win. She breaks up with her boyfriend William (Chris Klein) and he joins the army and heads to Iraq to forget his heartache. She hires a consultant who when he finds out about the “war hero” William (he was wounded on his first day in Iraq and sent home) advises her to get back with him because the American Dreamz audience will eat the story up. All of these stories will collide on the season finale of American Dreamz, and not everyone will survive.
American Dreamz is a dark comedy that is full of satire. From the current President to the public’s current fascination with reality television are fair game in the satiric lens of this movie. It’s fun to watch just how far some of the contestants will go to achieve their pursuit of fame.
Though those bits are funny, not all of it is so spot on. Does anyone think that there will ever be a funny joke about 9/11? Not that American Dreamz tries to tell one, but this is what struck me when I was watching a humorous take on a terrorist cell. Some of it is hilarious (Terrorists with Tivo??), but when I thought about that there really are groups that would like to blow up an American President on television I went away feeling somewhat sorry for laughing.
Maybe I’m just taking satire too seriously, which is something that I chide others for, but that’s what I thought when I watched the movie. If you’re a supporter of President Bush then you’ll probably be offended by Quaid and Dafoe’s portrayal of President Stanton and his Chief of Staff.
I didn’t think that Quaid looked too much like Bush, but Dafoe is definitely made up to look like Cheney. If you’re a Bush and Cheney hater, then you’ll think that they don’t go far enough in making them evil incarnate. Stanton is more of a lovable buffoon and his Chief of Staff is just a power hungry lovable buffoon.
American Dreamz is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and enhanced for 16x9 televisions. A fullscreen version is also available separately. Special features include 12 minutes of deleted scenes (including some American Dreamz segments). Next is a 3 minute featurette called “Center Stage: Sally Kendoo.”
It has Mandy Moore (in character) showing us around the backstage of the American Dreamz show. Next is the 7 minute “Dance Dreamz” featurette. It has interviews with director Paul Weitz, Sam Golzari, choreographer Jennifer Li, and Tony Yalda (who plays Omer’s cousin). Finally there’s a commentary with director Weitz and Sam Golzari.
American Dreamz is not for everyone. If you don’t understand satire, then stay away. It is a comedy, but you may feel bad for laughing at a plotline that has the potential assassination on public television of an American President in it. The situation and characters are still funny, but remember that it’s only a movie.