AMERICAN DREAMZ: DVD
On the morning after his re-election, US President Staton (Dennis Quaid) decides to read the newspaper for the first time in four years and continues reading obsessively and reclusively, re-assessing his black and white view of the world. His Chief of Staff (Willem Dafoe) pushes him back into the spotlight, booking him as a guest judge on the wildly popular talent quest, American Dreamz, hosted by self-aggrandizing, self-loathing Englishman Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant). Latest hopefuls include Sally (Mandy Moore), whose single minded ambition to be a star is making a mess of her relationship with boyfriend William (Chris Klein). A surprise success is Omer (Sam Golzari), a recent arrival from Iraq, with a deadly secret agenda. By the time Sally and Omer make it to the finals, they have each had their own epiphanies and the stage is set for a show the nation will never forget.
Review by Louise Keller:
The bite of a satire depends on how sharp the teeth and how deeply they cut into the tissues of the issues. In the case of American Dreamz, an acerbic satire that gnaws hungrily at celebrity, politics, war and ambition, filmmaker Paul Weitz goes for the jugular. As for the dreams for which all the characters are reaching.... well, let me simply say that dreams do come true for everyone. Even if those dreams are not exactly what they had imagined. With its pertinent issues and cutting humour smartly moulded into a sharp screenplay, there's plenty to think about and plenty to laugh at, even if the blackness of the humour may occasionally make us squirm in discomfort.
'Boo,' is the standard television sign-on with which Hugh Grant's insufferable talent show host Martin Tweed starts each show, and it is clear from the outset he is bored out of his mind. With the show. With the talent. With himself. With life. The tactics he uses and the ugliness he uncovers is aptly scary. Grant excels by using not only the charismatic charms to which we have grown accustomed, but scratches well below the surface as he reveals the dastardly flip side. All the cast is hand picked, from Dennis Quaid's carefully judged US puppet President who wants to hide in his pyjamas, Marcia Gay Harden as his supportive first lady, while Willem Dafoe's manipulating Chief of Staff (whose physical appearance alone will make you sit up and take notice), is nothing short of brilliant. Then there's Mandy Moore's terminally ambitious would-be celebrity who sings a treat, her stage mom (Jennifer Coolidge), Chris Klein's soppy veteran suitor and Sam Golzari's Middle Eastern broadway show addict Omer, who gets his suicide bomber instructions from three terrorists while slurping grapefruit sorbet in a Jacuzzi. Tony Yalda's performance as Iqbal, Omer's rich-kid US cousin who goes from star performer to Svengali on heat is also outstanding.
The set up is terrific, the execution delicious. Best of all, we get to understand each of the characters, irrespective of whether or not we like everything we see. Beyond the laughs, there are serious issues on display, and humour is an effective telescope.
Published September 20, 2006
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AMERICAN DREAMZ: DVD (M)
CAST: Willem Dafoe, Hugh Grant, Richard Dreyfus, Chris Klein, Dennis Quaid, Mandy Moore, Jennifer Coolidge, Marcia Gay Harden
PRODUCER: Paul Weitz, Rodney M. Liber, Andrew Miano, Chris Weitz,
DIRECTOR: Paul Weitz
SCRIPT: Paul Weitz
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Elswit
EDITOR: Myron I. Kirstein
MUSIC: Stephen Trask
PRODUCTION DESIGN: William Arnold
RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 27, 2006
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
DVD RELEASE: September 20, 2006