In AMERICAN DREAMER, frustrated housewife and writer Cathy Palmer enters a mystery-writing contest and wins an all-expense-paid trip to Paris. Once there, she is struck by a car and awakens believing that she is Rebecca R... more »yan, the heroine in a wild spy adventure.« less
"An exuberant wife and mother of two, with a flair for the written word finds adventure in "American Dreamer," a comedy from director Rick Rosenthal. Cathy Palmer (JoBeth Williams) enters a writing contest (two-thousand words written in the style of the famous "Rebecca Ryan" adventure-thriller series) and wins a week-long trip for two to Paris, France, to attend a luncheon to be given in her honor. When her patronizing husband, Kevin (James Staley) refuses to go (too much work at the office), and forbids her to go, as well, she asserts herself, finds a sitter for her two boys and goes anyway. While taking in some of the sights of Paris on her way to the luncheon, she is hit by a car and bashes her head on the pavement. When she awakens in the hospital, she thinks she is Rebecca Ryan, and her real adventures begin in earnest. First, a new wardrobe, charged to the hotel in which "Rebecca" resides. Actually, it's the home of Alan McMann (Tom Conti), son of Margaret McMann (Coral Browne), the author of the "Ryan" series. When Cathy shows up at Alan's as Rebecca, he takes it as a joke being played on him by one of his friends, and goes along with it. And very quickly, he wishes he hadn't; before he knows it, they're up to their necks in intrigue, involving political machinations and heads of state from a number of different countries. Not to worry, though, "Rebecca Ryan" is on the case. It's all a flight of fancy, played with gusto by the delightful JoBeth Williams. Her Cathy is the dutiful wife and mother, not necessarily demure, but cautious; when Rebecca takes over, however, she lets go without restraint. Rebecca comes on with both barrels, spunky and full of moxie, and Williams sells it completely, playing perfectly off of Conti's initially bemused, then confused, and ultimately alarmed Alan. Their timing is right on the money, and Rosenthal never lets it slow down; for this kind of story to work, it has to move fast, and it has to stay fun, and on both fronts Rosenthal succeeds. The story itself may lack some plausibility, but it doesn't make any difference; just suspend any disbelief for awhile, and go with it, because this movie is just what it's supposed to be: Entertaining and funny. And, it doesn't hurt that Williams sprinkles it all with charm. There's some memorable scenes here, including one in which Rebecca, at a party for some dignitaries, whispers what turns out to be a secret code to Don Carlos (Jean Rougerie), an ambassador from Spain, the consequences of which are hilarious. The supporting cast includes Giancarlo Giannini (Victor), Pierre Santini (Inspector Klaus), Leon Zitrone (Ivan), Christopher Daniel Barnes (Kevin, Jr.) and Huckleberry Fox (Karl). "American Dreamer" is light, breezy fare; it's well made and delivered with plenty of fun, thanks mostly to Williams, with an able and noteworthy assist from both Conti and Rosenthal. This may not be a classic, but for an evenings entertainment, this will aptly fill the bill. Moreover, it's one you're going to want to watch more than once, because it's fun, and it's going to leave you with a smile on your face. And, when you think about it, that's not a bad bargain in today's world."
It's coming out on DVD finally!!!!
jaded | NS, Canada | 11/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For all of you diehard American Dreamer fans who have waited patiently (and not so patiently)for the movie to be released on DVD...You wish has been granted. I have been writing fox etc. for years (along with many others) to have this movie put on DVD. According to a CBS exective (posing from another site)the movie is being released on DVD sometime in 2005 through paramount studios ( a sister company), not a very precise date but at least confirmation that it will be brought out on DVD. Apparently all the demands have made a difference ! Hope this helps people :o)"
JoBeth Williams in her greatest movie performance
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 08/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm continually amazed and confounded why the critics butchered this film when it was first released. AMERICAN DREAMER stars JoBeth Williams in one of her greatest roles, with fine support from Tom Conti and Coral Browne.
As a faithful wife to her colourless husband (James Staley) and attentive mother to two boys (Huckleberry Fox, C.B. Barnes), Cathy Palmer finds more romance and adventure in her beloved "Rebecca Ryan" novels. Cathy enters a contest where she has to submit a story written in the style of "Rebecca Ryan", and wins the trip to romantic Paris. Her husband forbids her to go, but realising this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Cathy packs her bags and goes alone. While siteseeing, Cathy is mugged and hit by a car, and waking up the hospital becomes convinced that she is indeed Rebecca Ryan, in the middle of one of her famous cases of international espionage.
JoBeth Williams is so wonderful as Cathy/Rebecca and turns in one of her greatest performances. Not to mention her lush wardrobe of designer clothes! Tom Conti plays the bewildered author of the "Rebecca Ryan" novels, caught up in Cathy's fantasy. With Coral Browne and Giancarlo Giannini. If you have yet to see AMERICAN DREAMER, I highly recommend it. This is a classic in my book."
For the Rebecca Ryan in all of us
jaded | 03/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Who hasn't fantasized about adventure and intrigue in exotic locations? This movie is a delight--funny, charming, and romantic. I've seen it over and over, and can't get enough. Tom Conti is perfectly cast as the bemused, exasperated, unwilling, and finally entranced hero, but the show really belongs to Jobeth Williams. Her portrayal of a vaguely dissatisfied but still devoted wife who accidentally takes on the persona of a madcap adventuress is priceless. I think I'll watch it again right now!"
Charming and light-hearted
jaded | 10/08/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ignore the professional reviews above; they're not accurate. This is a gentle, witty, charming confection of a movie, well worth watching over and over again. Despite what Gorman and Maltin say, this is not a rip-off of Romancing the Stone, not even close. The relationship at the core of Romancing the Stone is adversarial, founded on deceit and one-upsmanship (just like in every other Michael Douglas movie ;>). In American Dreamer, the relationship between Williams and Conti may start in delusion on her part and exasperation on his, but it evolves into an affectionate collaboration. JoBeth Williams plays a woman trapped in a marriage to a condescending man who wants a housekeeper, not an equal partner. (A dynamic familiar to many women in the early eighties. :>) She enters a "Rebecca Ryan" writing contest where the first prize is a trip for two to Paris -- and wins. Despite her best efforts to cajole her husband into accompanying her, he persists in belittling her accomplishment. Not only does he refuse to go to Paris with her, he also tries to prevent her from going, too. Despite his best efforts (and much to his consternation :)), she goes anyway. Through a series of mishaps, she gets amnesia (it is a Hollywood comedy, after all), and wakes up thinking that she actually is Rebecca Ryan, the designer-clad heroine of a series of spy novels, written by Tom Conti's mother (well, his character's mother, but you knew what I meant). She shows up at "Rebecca's" suite at the Hotel Crillion (actually occupied by Conti), and the chase is on...With plot twists that will actually catch you by surprise, one of the best slapstick comedy scenes in any movie (and yes, guys, this _does_ include the Three Stooges ;>), and a delightfully egalitarian relationship at the core of it, American Dreamer is a excellent choice for frittering away a rainy afternoon. And guys, it's a _great_ date movie.To the publisher: please, please, please, please, please release this on DVD..."