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American Dreamz
American Dreamz
Actors: Willem Dafoe, Hugh Grant, Marcia Gay Harden, Dennis Quaid, Shohreh Aghdashloo
Director: Paul Weitz
PG-13     2009

Thinly disguised versions of American Idol and the Bush presidency collide in the satire American Dreamz. Bored and self-loathing, Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant, About a Boy) wants to give his hugely popular reality show Americ...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Willem Dafoe, Hugh Grant, Marcia Gay Harden, Dennis Quaid, Shohreh Aghdashloo
Director: Paul Weitz
Studio: Universal Studios
Format: DVD - Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 02/27/2009
Release Year: 2009
Screens: Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

American Dreamz is an American Doze
!Edwin C. Pauzer | New York City | 06/09/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)

"This is barely a spiffy spoof on American culture and politics that might be all too close to a current TV show called "American Idol." Hugh Grant is a producer of the wildly successful "American Dreamz." He is professionally engaging and personally shallow, self-centered, and sleazy.

On the other side of the globe is an uncoordinated, two-left-footed terrorist in training whose mother was killed by an American bomb. Unfortunately, he loves American show tunes, and is caught by the silhouette of the light in his tent, dancing to one of them. His commanders decide that he will never be of any use, and order him to go to America as a sleeper agent. He is to take up residence with his aunt, uncle and two cousins. They plan on letting him sleep for a long time.

Then there is the President of the United States, played by Steven Quaid. He is a bone-headed, numbskull who gets everything he is supposed to say from his chief of staff, played by Willem Defoe. One morning he has the revelation that everything is not just black and white, and he goes on a reading frenzy beginning with the NY Times. He stays in the residence for weeks, just reading.

Mandy Moore is a blond, blue-eyed Karaoke singer from Anywhere, Ohio, and she definitely wants to become an American Dreamz Princess. She jilts her boyfriend as she finds out that she is selected for the show. The jilted beau decides to join the army where he is given only two weeks training before he finds himself in Iraq, where he gets shot in his tattooed arm that bears the name of his ex-girlfriend. He returns home to express his undying devotion to her.

(If you need to take a break from reading this review, I will understand).

Chief of staff, Willem Defoe decides to get the president out of his reading lethargy by booking him as a judge on "American Dreamz." American Dreamz Dream Team do their producer's bidding to find someone who is more ethnic than the average American. They should find someone from the middle east who they will ensure gets to the finals. And who do they discover practicing on his cousin's set in the basement of his aunt and uncle's California home? You guessed it!

Now the terrorists find their opportunity to strike at the clod of the United States. Will the sleeper terrorist who is love-struck with the American culture strap himself with a bomb, and blow up the president, or judge?

You'll have to see the movie to find out.

The acting is excellent and Hugh Grant deviates from his usual role as a sensitive, bumbling, loveable guy to heartless, intolerable creep.

As for actually seeing this movie, it's kind of a bomb. (Sorry, bad choice of words).

Take a nice nap instead."
"BAD is such a nebulous word"
Kevin J. Loria | New Orleans, LA USA | 05/01/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Writer/director Paul Weitz (AMERICAN PIE , ABOUT a BOY) hits us with his new film American Dreamz satirizes the White House incompetence, the flaws in the "war on terror" and the idiocy of TV's "American Idol." Weitz uses these easy targets for send-ups, while (again) attempting to make us like stupid and unlikable characters. While this worked in ABOUT a BOY and his AMERICAN PIE series of films, it is awkward at best, and he has greatest success with his show tune loving-would-be-terrorist, OMER. Let me explain...

...the story begins when President Staton (Dennis Quaid) wakes up one morning and decides, for the first time, to read the newspaper. He awakens to the possibilities of an outside world. Meanwhile, the self-absorbed host of TV's talent contest "American Dreamz," Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant), about to start another season, he demands to have an Arab represented on the show. His call is answered by, Omer (Sam Golzari), a less than enthusiastic terrorist "sleeper" dumped for incompetence and sent to the U.S. to live with family waiting for his orders. The future "American Dreamz" winner, Sally Kendoo (Mandy Moore), callously prepares for her future in showbiz by keeping her dim ex-boyfriend (Chris Klein) only to win votes. Willem Dafoe as a Cheney-looking Vice President, works to get the President, & the States, back under control, give Staton "happy pills" and making him wear an earpiece when speaking in public. As part of a PR blitz the President will make a guest appearance on "American Dreamz" in a painfully contrived connecting of characters. Weitz spends much of the movie attempting to humanizing these quirky stereotypes, the President starts to look like a nice, but spaced-out guy, along with the First-lady (Marcia Gay Harden), while even the shallow Sally and cynical Martin are revealed to be lonely behind their Hollywood facades.

In the end the movie falls short, after all the character tinkering Weitz fails to make a cohesive story. He supplies lots of interesting performances and interesting characters like: Tony Yalda as Iqbal, the flamboyantly gay cousin who helps with Omer's TV image; Jennifer Coolidge as Sally Mom, Chris Klein as Sally's boyfriend, Dafoe's VP has some great scene with the Staton as does Sam Golzari as the "Omerizing" contestant who may or may not win or blow-up the Prez. The movie's strength lies in the bashing of iconic sterotypes, from TV and from the general public, more concerned with reality TV voting than voting in a presidential election, in fact it is the movie's tagline. Another strength of the film is the energy used pointing out items made off limits for questioning or discussion, no matter how obvious, like the President blurting out that the War was a bad idea. But I expected more from this one, given the talent behind the project.

"
"I think I'm Omar-sexual."
Mike Zimmerman | Danville, PA United States | 11/25/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"President Joseph Staton (Dennis Quaid) sees the world as a fairly black-and-white place, but a glance at the daily headlines on the eve of his reelection leaves the most powerful man in the free world shaken to the very core. Upon reading this, Staton locks himself in his bedroom boning up on information, which causes concern for his chief of staff (Willem Dafoe) and first lady/wife (Marcia Gay Harden). Eventually, Staton finds himself booked on his favorite show, "American Dreams", hosted by the cynical Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant). The event is in favor of two contestants, Sally Kendoo (Many Moore) and Omer (Sam Golzari). But one of them has a dark secret that will ensure a season finale no one will soon forget.

With "American Dreams," Paul Weitz is finding himself in a new direction. Known for movies about getting past first base ("American Pie"), childish adults who want kids ("About a Boy"), and wounded egos in the workplace ("In Good Company"), the director is now moving into satirical comedy. Sure, we've been down this road before (on "SNL" and "MadTV"), but with a potent comedy agenda and good talent involved, "American Dreamz" manages to entertain.

Recently, critics are after this movie because of some poor satirical targets, such as "American Idol" and the fact that our president is a boob. Agreed, because we had "MadTV," "South Park," "Saturday Night Live," and a dozen other shows that have tackled these subjects. Of course, it doesn't help matters if you have overexposed "SNL" celeb Seth Meyers in your cast (though he does bring up a funny Britney Spears reference). And the movie takes a downfall when it reaches dramatic portions, such as terrorists forcing Omer to blow himself and the president up.

Weitz does get help from his cast. Like with all his recent movies, "Dreamz" benefits from a strong ensemble cast. The highlight of this movie is former(?) teen pop starlet Mandy Moore. She fills her character with naivet? charms (think Piper Perabo of "Coyote Ugly" without all the lame clich?d drama), and some doses of humor. It's very good stuff.

Rounding out the cast is some familiar Weitz cast members - Dennis Quaid puts a southern drawl for Staton, Hugh Grant is wonderfully cynical as Martin Tweed, and Chris Klein is always up for a laugh as Sally's b/f. It's a shame the same can't be said for John Cho, Jennifer Coolidge, Judy Greer, Marcia Gay Harden, and others, as none of them have a lot to do in this movie.

"Dreamz" kind of runs in the similar category as any "SNL" Weekend Update you've seen: sophomoric play-it-safe potshots at the president, making you wonder if Tina Fey was uncredited with writing the screenplay. Still, if your cast has some likable talent like Grant, Moore, and Quaid, maybe it doesn't matter that much. And Willem Dafoe's good as the Dick Cheney look-a-like, so why complain?"
American Nightmare
Michael T. Caughey | VA BEach | 05/01/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Perhaps one of the worst movies ever made. For a comedy, I only laughed perhaps twice in two hours. I thought it would be a funny send up of American Idol. It wasn't. But it was painfully slow, dull, and boring, and perhaps that's why a week after it opened there were only 10 people in the entire theatre besides the three of us. Dennis Quaid wasn't funny, Hugh Grant wasn't funny, and really I wish I had left and asked for a refund. It's amazing how a movie like that can make it to the screen. I would have done better to watch Dave again with Kevin Kleine. This movie was an American travesty from start to finish!"