The new season of "American Dreamz," the wildly popular television singing contest, has captured the country's attention, as the competition looks to be between a young Midwestern gal (Moore) and a showtunes-loving young man from Orange County (Golzari). Recently awakened President Staton (Quaid) even wants in on the craze, as he signs up for the potential explosive season finale.
Martin Tweed is the host of a talent show called American Dreamz, and whilst he despises each new season, it's a hit with the ratings. Tweed decides it's time for a new and interesting batch of contestants, and sends out his team to find the weirdest bunch possible. Whilst all this is happening, the President of the United States is becoming more and more depressed, and relies on his Chief of Staff to talk him through everything, even into appearing as a judge on the TV show. Perfect news for the terrorists who use the talent contest as a way to reach the President.Written by
Fine Performances; Funny Scenes; Lackluster Direction
Okay, "American Dreamz" is not the best movie I've ever seen. But it did make me laugh, and it's chock full of talent.
Plot: a young terrorist is assigned to blow himself up on the television show "American Dreamz" while President Staton is a judge for the show.
"American Dreamz" = "American Idol." President Staton = George Bush Willem Dafoe plays a Dick Cheney like character.
Hugh Grant plays a Simon Callow like character.
Hugh Grant, as the calculating, sadistic, game show host, shows us his inner snake, and it's a pleasure making the snake's acquaintance. Grant is convincingly cynical, twisted, and, at a key moment, vulnerable and poignant. And always funny.
Shoreh Aghdashloo, better known for operatic parts in serious dramas like "House of Sand and Fog," reveals a wonderful gift for comedy. I can only hope she ever gets to play comedy again.
Newcomer Sam Golzari is a poignantly convincing "everyman" driven to terrorism over grief at the death of his mother. The scene where he dances to Bob Fosse while in a terrorist training camp is worth the price of admission.
Another newcomer, Tony Yalda, is funny, commanding, and completely believable as a young show business wannabe. His every move is perfect, even as he watches his luckier cousin perform onstage. When he catches flaws in his own technique -- as he watches himself in his full length mirror -- his look of despair at his own failings is, there's that word again -- poignant.
Dennis Quaid, doing a George Bush imitation, somehow manages to keep his considerable sex appeal intact. How, I don't know.
Chris Klein, Mandy Moore, Marcia Gay Harden, Jennifer Coolidge -- these are very talented people and they are all perfect.
What isn't so great is the direction. It lacks the timing and snap of good comedic pacing. And there is a certain amount of incoherence in the script.
So, yeah, the movie isn't perfect, but it dares to poke fun at topics that have us all stymied, and to earn real laughs.
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