Evelyn GoughIn the Picture
Written, directed and produced by Paul Weitz
Im a big fan of the phenomenon known as American Idol. Give me the acid-tongued Simon Cowell over our home-grown judges any day.
But love it or loathe it you have to admit its ripe for a parody and the extremely talented Paul Weitz has achieved the trifecta; writing, directing and producing one of the wittiest films of the year American Dreamz. Thats dreamz with a z!
However, American Dreamz is not just a hilarious comedy but also a very clever and biting satire on the President of the United States and the war on terrorism which is currently engulfing the world.
Hugh Grant stars as Martin Tweed, or Tweedie, the shallow, self-loathing host of Americas number one TV show, American Dreamz. The talent show has been picked up for another year and Tweedie has a plan that will have it rating through the roof. Amongst the contestants he wants a hot blonde for the guys to drool over, as well as an Arab and a Jew!
Enter stage right Sally (Mandy Moore) and Omar (Sam Golzari). The ambitious Sally was always destined to be a star but Omars inclusion in the show is a total accident. He is really an Iraqi terrorist who is staying with his cousins while he waits to be contacted by his terror cell.
When its announced that the President of the United States (Dennis Quaid) will be a guest judge on American Dreamz, Omar is informed that he must make it through to the finals. His mission? To blow up the President!
While I loved everything about this film, I was particularly impressed by the casting. After wimping out for so many years Hugh Grant finally grew some balls and what a relief! I loved him in Bridget Jones Diary and About a Boy, and he is wonderfully wicked, disgustingly shallow and suitably sarcastic in American Dreamz. As for Dennis Quaid and Willem Dafoe, theyre just plain spooky as the President and his Chief-of-Staff.
Mandy Moore is fantastic as the calculating Sally and Im a huge fan of Jennifer Coolidge, who is terrific as Sallys mum. And most surprising is Chris Klein, who is hilarious as William, Sallys lovesick boyfriend.
For a sweet, feel-good comedy American Dreamz does a damn fine job at lampooning politics and showbiz. And it does it all without demonising Arabs. Omar in particular is a very appealing, sympathetic character.