American Dreamz review by Tom Blain
There are essentially three main stories in American Dreamz. There is the puppy dog terrorist Omer sent over to the U.S. by his organization to eventually fulfill some terrorist plot. But instead of executing any plans, he falls in love with the United States culture and the amenities of his rich aunt and uncles house. Then there is the doofus Texan, President Staton (Denis Quaid) who, after years of being fed information from his advisors finally reads the newspapers and is shocked by what he sees. After reading God-knows-how-many publications, he goes into seclusion and starts doubting himself as a decision maker. The president is an obvious crack on George W Bush, right down to the Laura Bush look alike first lady (Marcia Gay Harden). He also has an advisor/puppet master who is really Willem Dafoe in a cheap Dick Cheney disguise. The third and central story line revolves around the reality show American Dreamz which is a near carbon copy of American Idol, minus Simons left-side and right-side dead weight. Martin Twead (Hugh Grant) is the Simon Cowell of the show: middle aged-Brit with a hip hair cut, devilishly quick wit, and overall evil disposition. His leading contestant, in the Britney Spears/Kelly Clarkson mold, is a fame mongering white trash Sally Kendoo (Mandy Moore).
Omer ends up getting a spot on American Dreamz when Martin decides he wants more whacky ethnic representation on the show. Sally gets a spot on the show because Simon sees something in her; or rather he sees that she was born without a soul just like him. President Dumbass (and seriously the way Quaid plays the role, I had a hard time believe even W is this stupid) and his cohorts decide it would be a good idea to get him on some T.V. show to prove to the U.S. that he is not catatonic, so he ends up being a guest judge on American Dreamz. At this point, the terrorist group tries the sway the now patriotic Omer towards fulfilling a suicide mission live on TV.
I had some real problems with this movie. Real big problems. First of all, it should have been a lot better based on the material they had to work with. The jabs at easy targets should be a knockout in more skilled hands, but for some reason the jokes come off as old heard that before, generally uninspired, and ill-advised. Look at the crap that is on American Idol from week to week. Every week wannabe diva and boy-band member takes them self seriously playing an irritating game of karaoke in front of an oogling audience of pre-teens. The winner becomes a future producer of recycled kid-pop crap that will hit a top 40 radio station near you. How does American Dreamz go about mocking this situation? By saying that the crass Brit who judges the show is bored and wants to add a few new ethnic faces? Please To their credit they show people from different walks of life goofing on the show with schticky humor; but this is something that is already unintentionally funny about the real Idol.
Sadly the music itself even sounds like it came straight from American Idol. Now some might say "well thats exactly the point." NO NO NO! The part they could have really worked comedically the most is the part they took most seriously! What could have been a comedic point actually sounded as if it could have come straight from the real show. How torturous is that? I still cant get this stupid American Dreamz: Dreamz with a z tune out of my head.
By far the biggest slap in the face was the idea that an al-Qaeda terorist fell in love with the United States because of American Idol. Is anyone else slapped in the junk by this? AMERICAN FREAKING IDOL and A TERRORIST... IN LOVE WITH EACH OTHER! Google that combination and see how many websites mention "sure signs of the apocalype" in the same paragraph. Its absurd to think that what makes the terrorists hate American's so much (deviant lifestyle, women displaying skin, horrible music) other than that whole "bombing their land continuously" thing is actually what makes one of them love us so much. Is this satire? Or the punchline to a bad knock-knock joke? In most satires there is sort of a balance between the absurd and real. The balance is so even that the lines between the two become blurry and its in those instances that comedy is created. I kept getting the feeling that if they revealed bin Laden he would have been played by Don Knots.
Quaid's impression of the president may play up to some Bush-haters but not this one. That coward they showed played by Quaid is not Bush. First of all, he had the state of mind to recognize his lack of approval and secondly acted up on it with remorse and depression. If you are going to play 'W' and do it right you need to commit not with remorse and depression but with arrogance and stubbornness. He should commit to a horrible plan and never accept defeat. "I still say the sky is green depsite what Congress is telling me!" Thats the W that we have all come to hate and it should have been accentuated.
Suffice to say the movie disappointed me greatly. My expectations were set for a showdown between American Idol and a dumb, foolhardy president but there was never really a strong plot line or theme that you could hold onto and say A ha, this movie did this very well. I walked away from the movie thinking What was the point of all that? It all felt like a pretty useless exercise in showing how fairly big name actors can do a talent show routine imitating famous people. The plot lines were loosely tied together, and a few general lessons were learned but nothing that shouldnt have been obvious from the content. I was hoping for more, or at least to be entertained with lots of comedic moments but they even failed at that. Now all Im left with is that stupid song by Mandy Moore playing on repeat in my head. Thanks a lot American Dreamz dreamz with a z.
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