American Dreamz

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: -1/2

Hugh Grant, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Willem Dafoe, Chris Klein. Written & directed by Paul Weitz.

On the morning of his reelection, the President decides to stay in his boudoir and read a paper. Completely controlled by his chief of staff, the President begins reading the newspapers and discovers that there is more going on than his sheltering staff lets him believe. Weeks later, hes still holed up in the First Bedroom, analyzing the worlds state of affairs. Trouble is, the public wonders why they havent seen him. Is he in bad health? Has he gone off his executive rocker?

His chief aide and consoling wife deem it necessary to get the President back in the spotlight. They do so by having him make an appearance as a guest judge on the top-rated musical reality show, American Dreamz. The dopey leader of the free world then takes second fiddle to the self-aggrandizing host of the program. Nearly devoid of character or feelings, the host is determined to keep his show on top by pitting a conniving steel magnolia against a bumbling Iraqi immigrant, who unbeknownst to anyone in his U.S. family, is a trained terrorist ordered to win the contest and blow up the President.

The spin on this George Bush spoofing is that beneath his unawareness there beats the heart of a decent man who would like to do right if only he wasnt such a pampered fool. Usually Hollywood is more mean spirited about Mr. Bush.

Dennis Quaid is terrific in this role, giving a comic performance that avoids burlesque. Trouble is, after endless parodies on Saturday Night Live and countless sophomoric movies poking fun at the Prez, the shtick is getting stale. Well, I suppose if you hate George Bush, the lampooning never gets old.

Hugh Grant is also perfect as the self-loathing narcissistic TV host. And lovely Mandy Moore is a little too perfect as the scheming small town girl who wants more than anything to be famous. The rest of the cast are at the top of their game, having a blast at ridiculing the President, reality shows and foreign misconceptions of America.

Dr. Strangelove, The Hospital, Network, and The Mouse That Roared are 4-star examples of how parody and sardonic satire are used to teach and remind us of the absurdities man will go to in order to achieve fame, power and wealth. I wouldnt quite put American Dreamz in the same category as these classics, but it does make several valid points. And its biting humor is very funny. Alas, there are areas of ridicule that didnt sit right with this reviewer. For example, in the name of humor, the writers poked fun at Mr. Bushs past drinking problems and his faith. Yes, even a belief in God and reading the Bible become a source of blunt humor. This religious mockery is very telling, for its difficult to not sense a demeaning attitude from those involved, one that suggests Christianity is the folly of fools. And of dolts and bigots. Its hard to enjoy a movie containing such propaganda.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: The sarcastic wit sometimes becomes crude. For example, humor is played out of President Bushs past drinking habits and his religious beliefs. A rabbi is also made fun of. After losing the contest, we see him drinking, surrounded by scantily clad women.

Obscene Language: There are a few obscenities sprinkled throughout, including one use of the f-word, one of the s-word and 5 uses of the word, bitch.

Profanity: I caught one use of Gods name followed by a curse.

Violence: A soldier is wounded in Iraq. This is played for laughs. A terrorist is being trained to blow up the president. This is also played for laughs.Blood: A soldier is seen bleeding from a wound in the arm.

Sex: There is one implied sexual dalliance. Though it is discussed, we do not see the situation.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: There are a couple of sexual dialogues, but nothing is graphically discussed.

Drugs: Some drinking.

Other: The film satires politics, TV reality shows, as well as personalities dominated by greed and selfishness. The president is portrayed as a buffoon

Running Time: 100 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and adults

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