Release Date: April 21, 2006
Starring: Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid,
Mandy Moore, Sam Golzari,
Marcia Gay Harden, Chris
Klein, and Willem Dafoe
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 107 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Director: Paul Weitz
Executive Producer: Kerry Kohansky
Producer: Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz,
Rodney M. Liber, and Andrew
Writer: Paul Weitz
Address Comments To:Bob Wright, Chairman/CEO
Ron Meyer, President/COO
Marc Shmuger, Chairman
David Linde, Co-Chairman
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Phone: (818) 777-1000
Web Page: www.universalstudios.com
The movie does take some light jabs at capitalist commercialism in America, including repeated aimless visits to the mall by teenagers. Most of the heaviest attacks, however, are reserved for the average American's and the average American immigrant's lust for fame and our idolization of celebrities.
Except for some light politically correct content and a slightly negative portrayal of a religious Jew who observes clothing laws but lusts after women, the biggest problem with the movie may be its foul language. The foul language contains 24 obscenities, including one "f" word, and nine light profanities. Although there are a few sexual references in AMERICAN DREAMZ, they are either very light or not gratuitous. For example, a scene where an unmarried man and women are apparently fornicating behind a closed door is a crucial plot twist, and nothing is shown or heard of their activity in the PG-13 version that Universal Pictures showed us. Also, there is a shot of the Jewish singing contestant watching TV in his hotel room surrounded by a bunch of women dressed in fancy evening clothes.
Basically, the story of AMERICAN DREAMZ is a thinly veiled satire of President George W. Bush and the popular real-life TV show, AMERICAN IDOL, including IDOL's mean judge with an English accent, Simon Cowell. Though they have different names in the movie, Dennis Quaid and Marcia Gay Harding are made up to look like President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush. Hugh Grant plays the Simon Cowell part. He plays Martin Tweed, the host of a wildly popular TV singing contest called "American Dreamz." In the plot, President Staton is a clueless chief executive who suddenly decides, after winning a second term, that he'd rather sit in his bedroom and study the issues himself than just let the Vice President tell him what to say and do. The Vice President finally convinces him to reappear in public. He schedules the President to be a guest judge on the final show of "American Dreamz."
Meanwhile, a series of coincidences lands Omar, a klutzy Iraqi Muslim terrorist living undercover in California, a spot on the show as a contestant. Omar loves to sing show tunes and has a good chance to be one of the two finalists. His terrorist buddies weren't going to use Omar because he's so klutzy, but they now see a chance to strike a blow for Allah by making Omar blow up the President on the show. Omar is not so sure about this plan. He also likes certain aspects of America and its people, including musical theater.
A subplot involving an unscrupulous young female singer, Sally Kendoo, and her clueless but sincere ex-boyfriend, a wounded American soldier just returned from Iraq, provides additional satire about the search for celebrity fame and fortune.
There is some politically correct content, including subtextual elements, to AMERICAN DREAMZ, especially its content surrounding the President character, who's a thinly veiled President Bush. The movie even makes fun of the character's belief that God has helped him get elected. Though the President becomes a better leader at the end, and is still seen reading his Bible, the politically correct jokes at President Bush's expense are fairly predictable, a sign of lazy writing using cheap humor. For instance, the movie also uses the same tired old innuendoes that President Bush is ridiculously stupid. Someone should tell the liberals and leftists in Hollywood to get better, fresher material. They've been using this kind of accusation against Republican presidents and conservative leaders since Eisenhower!
On the other hand, the movie's jokes about the Muslim terrorists and the lust for fame seem better written and, hence, funnier. Even funnier and more insightful at times is the movie's contention that people, even Muslim terrorists, are suckers for TV marketing campaigns that create sentimental, but phony, stories that tug at the heartstrings.
Overall, AMERICAN DREAMZ is not a vicious satire. In fact, despite its flaws and problems, its dominant worldview seems to be a moral one. For example, the movie exposes human foibles, attacks the lust for fame and obsession with celebrities, advocates peace, and extols sincerity and goodness over being smart and cunning. Thus, although it is not a perfect movie, it doesn't deserve the kind of very strong righteous indignation from Christians and conservatives that the satirical rants of people like Michael Moore, Bill Maher and Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller do. Most moviegoers probably will think the movie lacks bite or just isn't hilarious enough
AMERICAN DREAMZ is a genial satire that may offend some, or even many, but the satire is not as vicious as it could have been. Regrettably, the satire also is not as funny or insightful as it could have been either, though it has some positive moral elements. Most of the satire is aimed at the lust for fame and advocates peaceful coexistence among different cultures. The movie does contain some politically correct satire aimed at President Bush and conservatives, however, as well as some light off-color humor and plenty of foul language.