American Dreamz

 
Directed by: Paul Weitz
Written by:Paul Weitz
Starring: Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid, Mandy Moore, Marcia Gay Harden, Chris Klein, Jennifer Coolidge, Willem Dafoe, Sam Golzari, John Cho, Judy Greer
Released: April 27, 2006
Grade: B+

American Dreamz is a sharp comedy which pokes fun at the world’s obsession with reality television shows.  It centres on a high-rating show called American Dreamz in which wanna-be singers get the chance to perform in front of a massive television audience.  Each week, several singers are voted out until there is one person left standing.  If you haven’t picked up on it yet, it’s a take-off of American Idol.

The host of the show is Martin Tweed (Grant), a complicated man who finds misery in success.  He hates the show but does it for the fame and the money.  Tweed wants to spice up the new series of the show and so when his assistants ask what kind of person he’s looking for he responds with “I’m talking human.  And by human I mean flawed.  And by flawed I mean freaks.  Find me some freaks.”

The pick of the crop is Sally Kendoo (Moore).  She’s a great singer and a great manipulator.  With the help of a phoney New York agent, she plans on using every trick in the book to win the audience’s vote.    Also in the running is an Iraqi by the name of Omer (Golzari).  Omer is in America to help carry out a terrorist operation but a strange twist of fate sees him selected to appear.

As large subplot in the film is that of newly re-elected President Joe Staton (Quaid).  The bumbling President has recently had some bad publicity and so his Chief of Staff (Dafoe) has organised for him to appear at the grand final of American Dreamz as a celebrity judge.  I’m not convinced that the President is a necessary character in this film but Dennis Quaid provides some great laughs in the role.

American Dreamz is entertaining from the very first scene.  It has one of the biggest casts of the year and that’s a tribute to the script written by Paul Weitz (American Pie, About A Boy, In Good Company).  They clearly wanted to be a part of the project and some of the actors have accepted roles which are smaller than you’d expect.  Hugh Grant, Mandy Moore and Willem Dafoe are particularly good.

There are a few terrorist references in the film which may be off-putting to some but those who love a darker-style of comedy will have their “dreamz” realised.