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.
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
(BB, P, PC, Acap, Cap, FR, Ab, Ho, RH, LLL, V, S, A, D, M) Strong moral worldview, with some pro-American Dream and pro-American content, but in a light satirical vein, that shows human foibles, attacks the lust for fame, advocates peace, extols sincerity and goodness over brain power, and supports being informed about the social and political issues of the day, but which is spoiled by negative content such as a possible politically correct attitude of multiculturalism, plus criticism of capitalist commercialism mixed in with some pro-capitalist implications, plus some thinly veiled politically correct attacks on President Bush and his Iraq policies although the president character in the movie (who looks like George W. Bush and has a First Lady who looks like Laura Bush) eventually comes across as a sincere person and a thinly veiled politically correct attack on Vice President Dick Cheney where VP in the movie looks like VP Cheney and is overbearing and power-mad, plus a comical depiction of the false religion of Muslim terrorists and Muslim Iraqi family in America who have become crass middle-class consumers, possible anti-Semitic aspect in that one minor character is supposedly a religious Jew who lusts after women and is seen surrounded by fully clothed women in a hotel room whereas the major Muslim/Arab character is the most heroic character in the movie (he gives up terrorism and revenge in favor of peace and living the American Dream), a couple light homosexual jokes/references (such as young woman says her father is living with another man in another state and man jokes "I'm Omar-sexual") and one male character is rather effeminate but nothing is said about his sexual preferences, and a major character's terrorist cousin spouts some revisionist history about Americans killing Arabs, including a reference to major character's beloved mother who was allegedly killed by an American bomb (although the cousin is a terrorist, viewers may not be able to make a distinction between what the movie says and what the truth in the Middle East may actually be); about 24 obscenities (including one "f" word and someone says "g" damn it), nine light profanities and some other vulgar expressions such as "holy cr*p" and "stinkholes"; light violence such as pratfalls and gunshots in a terrorist training camp where would-be terrorists shoot at a cardboard figure of the president character in the movie, attempted assassination and explosion off-screen but only smoke is seen from afar in longshot; implied fornication when people peek through keyhole (but nothing is seen), passionate kiss and a couple homosexual references; no nudity; no alcohol but talk in a couple scenes about President getting drunk in the past; no smoking or illegal drug use but talk about taking "happy pills" and President and First Lady tell each other they stopped taking their happy pills; and, miscellaneous immorality includes lust for fame, rude behavior, deceit, young woman deceives her ex-boyfriend, and PR is often used to shade and cover up the real truth, but nearly all of this is rebuked, often through satire.
In AMERICAN DREAMZ, the not-very-bright President of the United States, who resembles George W. Bush, is signed to be a guest judge on the season-ending program of "American Dreamz," a popular TV show patterned after AMERICAN IDOL. When his terrorist cousin in the Middle East hears that Omar, an Iraqi immigrant living in California, is a contestant, the cousin sends sleeper cell agents to make sure that Omar will be on the final show so he can blow up the President. Omar is not so sure about this plan, and he's grown to like his current home.
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.