Saturday, May 06, 2006


As promised, I watched American Dreamz, the new movie starring Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid and Mandy Moore, which supposedly lampoons American Idol.

Two words should sum it up quite nicely: Don't bother.

Seriously, this movie was two hours of my life that I won't be getting back.

First off, we have director/writer Paul Weitz, who we can blame for the first two American Pie movies. Weitz's current work-in-progress is a movie called Another Bull***t Night in Suck City, which I am not making up, although the title would've been apt for American Dreamz as well, because that basically sums it up.

In any case, the writing on this movie could've been done by a third grader, and nobody would've known the difference. The movie never really decides where it wants to be. It flip flops between wanting to be a light-hearted comedy, to a slapsticky Naked Gun-esque spoof movie, to a self-absorbed vanity flick. Often mean-spirited and hateful, the movie spares no venom for many different things. Random things, really, and you're often left wondering who peed in Weitz's Cheerios the morning he wrote this script. And you know it was written in a single morning, because the plot meanders and never actually accomplishes anything, unless you count boring the viewer to death.

There's a ton of wasted talent in here. Dennis Quaid plays the erstwhile President Staton, an underdone George W. Bush impersonation, meant only to pander to people who haven't heard the five millionth "G.W. Bush is stupid" joke. Quaid has been much more enjoyable in movies like Frequency and The Rookie. Willem Dafoe plays the evil Dick Cheney character who secretly runs the country while the president bumbles around. Hugh Grant plays the Simon Cowell character fairly well, delivering with perfect egotism lines like "I envy myself deeply," but lacking the pathos that makes the real Simon an interesting if not likable person. Mandy Moore plays the Carrie Underwood character, who is cornpone and country on the outside, but an evil conniving tart on the inside. Chris Klein plays the carbon copy of Carrie Underwood's ex-boyfriend (the one she dumped not long after getting her Hollywood ticket), except that he overplays it and turns into the buffoon of the picture.

All of these are talented actors. None of them show it in this picture.

(note: spoilers ahead, although my advice is to go ahead and read them and not bother with the movie. also, I will not be referring to the characters by their character names, just as who they're characterizing...)

The movie starts out with Simon's wife walking out on him. We find out what kind of egotist he is, and we establish that American Dreamz is the show that he's created that makes him rich and famous. Quick cut to an Iraqi terrorist camp, where we meet one of our first American Dreamz contestants. Then we meet Carrie, a bumpkin with dreams, who finds out that she's going on the show, immediately dumps her boyfriend, and then goes on to be molded into a star. Simon meets with her to prep her and make sure she wins it. President Bush gets re-elected, and he doesn't appear in public for three weeks, because he's developed an affinity for reading newspapers and actually knowing what's going on in the world, much to the dismay of Dick Cheney, who prompts Bush for every word through an earpiece. Cheney arranges for Bush to be a guest judge on American Dreamz. The Iraqi guy tries out for the show and gets on, so that he can set off a bomb to kill the President at the finale. There's a host of other characters, including a blatant attack on Bo Bice singing "I'm a rock and roll man" over and over. And, friends, to be honest with you, by the time I got to this, I was so bored that I couldn't finish the film.

It sounds like it should be a great comedy. It's not.

As I said before, the movie doesn't know what to be as it goes along. And every joke it uses falls flat on its face. Everything from the President's ramblings to Carrie coming from the town of "Padookie." It just all seems so stupid. Perhaps the biggest failing of the movie is that there were jokes to be told, but the movie did not take advantage of them. For example, there was no Paula figure, and y'all know that there are boundless opportunities for jokes there. There was also no Randy character, and I was sitting there thinking to myself that if they'd JUST brought in Cedric the Entertainer to play Randy, they'd have hit the jackpot. Simon not only judges, produces, writes, and owns the show, but he also HOSTS it. Mad TV's Seth Meyers was in the cast, right there, and he is perfect to play a Ryan Seacrest clone, but they misused him. There are more examples of jokes the film could've used, but frankly, it's not worth typing them all.

And the George Bush thing is so tired. Like him or not, you have to admit the "Bush is an idiot" joke line has reached its peak. It's funny to me because I read several fan reviews on IMDb, and they all lauded Dreamz for being "brave" and "taking on Bush when no one else will." Please! Everybody does it! And it's these same people who wailed, begging us to respect the office of the President when Clinton was getting busy in the Oval Office. Those jokes are tired, and so are these.

Bottom line: American Dreamz is boring, unfunny, and a complete drudgery to watch, and I implore you to steer clear of it. The only reason to watch it is if you are a complete and totally rabid fan of Idol, and even then you'll be disappointed. I suggest buying The Best and Worst of American Idol DVDs instead.

Final grade: F-----


Post a Comment

<< Home