THE STORY: Filmmaker Paul Weitz — whose comic explorations have ventured into the synergistic halls of corporate culture (In Good Company), the perils of psychological isolationism (About a Boy) and the vicissitudes of losing one’s virginity (American Pie)– now delivers a comedy yanked from right-now popular culture…where the nation’s shrinking attention span is more focused on “what’s hot” than on hot-button headlines: American Dreamz.
On the morning of his re-election, the President (Quaid) decides to read the newspaper for the first time in four years. This starts him down a slippery slope. He begins reading obsessively, reexamining his black and white view of the world, holing up in his bedroom in his pajamas. Frightened by the President’s apparent nervous breakdown, his Chief of Staff (Dafoe) pushes him back into the spotlight, booking him as a guest judge on the television ratings juggernaut (and the President’s personal fave), the weekly talent show American Dreamz.
America can’t seem to get enough of American Dreamz, hosted by self-aggrandizing, self-loathing Martin Tweed (Grant), ever on the lookout for the next insta-celebrity. His latest crop of hopefuls includes Sally (Moore), a conniving steel magnolia with a devoted, dopey veteran boyfriend (Klein), and Omer, a recent Southern Californian immigrant (who just happens to be a bumbling, show tune singing, would-be terrorist awaiting activation). When both Sally and Omer make it to the final round of Dreamz–where the President will be judging along with Tweed–the stage is set for a show the nation will never forget.
THE REVIEW: Is American Idol good enough to support a mockumentary style comedy? American Dreamz proves it isn’t. Either that or this is just a bad movie. There is an attempt to take American Idol to the extreme and it falls apart at the seams. It could have been more interesting we’re it a movie about the behind the scenes antics and not so much into the life of Dennis Quaid as the President.
All of the politics loses the audience because the audiences which would seem to be kids and not parents—fans of American Idol are teens. So to make this movie and focus it on the wrong age group makes no sense. There is some funny satire—too bad it doesn’t get any help from a weak plot.
THE EXTRAS: The commentary with director/writer Paul Weitz is terribly boring. The featurette “Center Stage” gives viewers a look at the backstage. The next featurette “Dance Dreamz” goes into the choreography and offers slim pickings when it comes to interviews. Finally, there are deleted scenes that don’t offer anything of interest.
FRANKLY: American Dreamz has its funny moments as it attempts to be a political satire. Too bad the narrative is all wrong for the topic. Maybe they can try a political satire where the President goes onto an island with eleven strangers fight their way to the end.
+ Charlie Craine