American Dreamz is a 2006 comedy film that satirizes both popular entertainment and American politics during the second Bush administration, called a "cultural satire" by director/producer/writer Paul Weitz. Reviews were lukewarm and the film just about broke even at the box office.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Paul Weitz|
|Produced by||Paul Weitz|
|Written by||Paul Weitz|
Marcia Gay Harden
|Music by||Stephen Trask|
|Edited by||Myron I. Kerstein|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|April 21, 2006|
On the morning after his re-election, US President Joseph Staton (Dennis Quaid) decides to read the newspaper for the first time in four years. This starts him down a slippery slope. He begins reading obsessively, reexamining his "black-and-white" view of the world in a more "gray-seeming" way, and holing up in his bedroom in his pajamas. Frightened by the President's apparent nervous breakdown, his Chief of Staff (Willem Dafoe) pushes him back into the spotlight, booking him as a guest judge on the television ratings juggernaut (and the President's wife's personal favourite), the weekly talent show American Dreamz. America cannot seem to get enough of American Dreamz, hosted by self-aggrandizing, self-loathing Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant), ever on the lookout for the next insta-celebrity. His latest crop of hopefuls includes Sally Kendoo (Mandy Moore), a conniving steel magnolia with a devoted, dopey veteran boyfriend William Williams (Chris Klein), and Omer Obeidi (Sam Golzari).
Because Omer's mother died in the Middle East in an American attack, he joined a group of jihadists. He was an actor in an instruction film for terrorists, but he was too clumsy, and his interest in show tunes was frowned upon. Therefore, he was sent to the U.S. to await further instructions, but the leaders expected they could not use him. He moved to Southern California to live with his extended family there, including his effeminate cousin Iqbal (Tony Yalda) and Shazzy (Noureen DeWulf). Iqbal hoped to be selected to participate in American Dreamz, but in a misunderstanding, Omer was selected instead. Iqbal becomes angered by this at first but later agrees to help Omer win and makes himself his manager.
Omer's terrorist organization now sees an opportunity: Omer is instructed to make it to the finale, and kill the President in a suicide attack. He succeeds in getting to the finale. Security is bypassed by assembling the bomb after the security check, in the toilet, from small parts smuggled in (the smaller pieces of explosive are disguised as chewing gum). Omer agrees, but changes his mind and disposes of the bomb in the trash can.
Sally is the other finalist. Earlier in the film, she had dumped William because she believed that her life would've gone nowhere if she still had him for a boyfriend and that he'd only drag her down. This drove William to join the army, only to be wounded in Iraq and sent back to the U.S. For the purpose of the show and at the insistence of her agent, Chet Krogl (Seth Meyers), Sally has to pretend that she still loves William. On the eve of the American Dreamz finale, William proposes to Sally, which she rejects until Chet decides to boost Sally's popularity and chances of winning the show by asking William to do the proposal on air. However, William witnesses Sally having sex with Martin, and is furious. When he throws out the engagement ring, he finds the bomb Omer tossed in the trash can. He then comes out on stage and threatens to detonate it. While the other people evacuate, William starts singing and Martin, who refuses to let go of the camera, films it. As William reaches the end of the song, he detonates the bomb by walking into the camera, killing both himself and Martin. The film then cuts to shots of people dialing up their cell phones to vote in for the winner. It is eventually revealed that William Williams was voted the surprise winner of American Dreamz.
The epilogue reveals what each of the characters went on to do after the end of last season. Omer went on to become a successful star of his own Broadway revue, where he is shown performing a scene from the musical Grease. The President makes his wife his new Chief of Staff. And Sally Kendoo becomes the new host of American Dreamz.
- Hugh Grant as Martin "Tweedy" Tweed
- Dennis Quaid as President Joseph Staton
- Marcia Gay Harden as First Lady
- Willem Dafoe as Chief of Staff
- Mandy Moore as Sally Kendoo
- Chris Klein as William Williams
- Jennifer Coolidge as Martha Kendoo
- Sam Golzari as Omer Obeidi
- Seth Meyers as Chet Krogl
- Judy Greer as Deborah Accordo
- John Cho as Frank Ittles
- Tony Yalda as Iqbal Riza
- Noureen DeWulf as Shabnam "Shazzy" Riza
- Shohreh Aghdashloo as Nazneen Riza
- Adam Busch as Sholem Glickstein
- Jeff Ross as American Dreamz finale pre-show announcer (uncredited)
Although the singing contest depicted in the film has been interpreted as a direct satire of American Idol, Paul Weitz said in an interview that the similarities are almost accidental, and that the showrunner is not based on Simon Cowell but on Hugh Grant himself: "a depressive, morbid but really funny, cynical guy ... too egotistical to have any other judges so it's just him kind of projected up on screen judging the contestants". Weitz went on to call the film a cultural rather than a political satire.
American Dreamz opened on April 21, 2006 and made $3.7 million in its first weekend, placing ninth. The film had a total domestic gross of $7.2 million and an international gross of $9.2 million, for a total gross of $16.4 million. It had its widest release in its opening weekend, opening in 1,500 theatres across the USA, and ended its national release after only four weeks on May 28, 2006.
In Spain, the film debuted at #11, earning $109,681 in 50 theatres. The following week dropped to #15, grossing $58,467.
On the review website Rotten Tomatoes, 40% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 163 reviews, and an average rating of 5.3/10, with the consensus: "A cheerfully silly satire with an unfortunate lack of focus, American Dreamz takes aim at numerous targets, but isn't pointed enough for relevant social commentary." Giving the film a C+ in her review, Rebecca Murray writes that Weiz tried to do too much: "Simply put, American Dreamz suffers from an overabundance of subplots and characters. There's so much going on, the comedy can't survive the film's scattershot approach." Leonard Maltin in his book 151 Best Movies You've Never Seen says director "Weitz holds a mirror up to American society and uses humor to help us see ourselves at our best, and at our worst."
The film's soundtrack was released April 18, 2006 by Lakeshore Records.
- "Stars and Stripes Forever"
- "One" — Sam Golzari (from A Chorus Line)
- "Luck Be a Lady" — Sam Golzari (from Guys and Dolls)
- "Impossible Dream" — Sam Golzari (from Man of La Mancha)
- "My Way" — Sam Golzari
- "Greased Lightnin'" — Sam Golzari (from Grease)
- "Super Freak" — Rick James
- "That's Entertainment" — The Jam
- "Nights in White Satin" — The Moody Blues
- "Mommy Don't Drink Me to Bed Tonight" — Mandy Moore
- "(Girl) Let's Not Be Friends" — Joshua Wade
- "Rockin' Man" — Trey Parker
- "Never Felt This Way Before" — Niki J. Crawford
- "Lez Git Raunchy" — Adam Busch
- "Dreams with a Z" — Mandy Moore
- "Tea Time" — Joe Lervold
- "Trail of Love" — The Razen Shadows feat. Teresa James
- "Riza" — Pedro Eustache, Paul Livingstone, Faisal Zedan, Wael Kakish, and Donavon Lerman
American Dreamz was released on DVD in the United Kingdom on July 2, 2006, and was released in America on October 17, 2006. It was then released in Australia later that year.
- American Dreamz (2006): Reviews
- American Dreamz (2006) - Box office / business
- Murray, Rebecca. "Dennis Quaid, Mandy Moore and Writer/Director Paul Weitz Talk American Dreamz". About Entertainment. Archived from the original on 2017-04-29. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
- Weekend Box Office Results for April 21–23, 2006. BoxOfficeMojo.com
- American Dreamz (2006) BoxOfficeMojo.com
- Solid Silent Hill, So-So Sentinel, Shattered American Dreamz." BoxOfficeMojo.com
- "American Dreamz". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 13 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-23.
- Murray, Rebecca. "American Dreamz Movie Review". About Entertainment. Archived from the original on 29 April 2017. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
- Maltin, Leonard (2010). 151 Best Movies You've Never Seen. HarperCollins. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-06-173234-8.