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American Dreamz (6/10)

by Tony Medley

Thereís nothing wrong with satire. Just because a Hollywood movie comes out making fun of George Bush and Dick Cheney doesnít mean that George Clooney and Michael Moore are running rampant again, disregarding the truth. It just means that these two are powerful men who, as a result of their power, are fodder for jokes.

Gilbert & Sullivan wrote wonderful operettas in the late 19th century and all were satirical. That didnít make them bad or reprehensible. It made them funny.

And thatís what American Dreamz is, funny. Even though I found it uneven and slow in parts, the last half hour is pretty good, and it doesnít limit its mocking to the President and Vice President. It includes rabid, maniacal Islamic Jihadists and Simon Cowell among its victims. I donítí mean to imply that Simon Cowell is rabid or maniacal by that sentence, but I donít discard the idea, either.

But he is over the top and thatís exactly where Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant) is located. With a self-loving ego that has made him the number one celebrity in America he hosts an ďAmerican IdolĒ type show that is the top rated show. He has invited President Staton (Dennis Quaid) to host the showís finale, pitting Sally Kendo (Mandy Moore) and William Williams (Chris Klein), an unlikely Islamic Jihadist who loves Broadway tunes, against one another. Problem is that Williamsí compatriots want him to wear a belt bomb and blow up President Staton.

Willem Dafoe is the vice president and he is clearly playing Dick Cheney. Everything has been done to make him look like Cheney, even matching the veepís balding head. Dafoe is piped in to President Staton electronically, and feeds him his lines, like Edgar Bergin did for Charlie McCarthy.

Dennis Quaid is well cast as the bumbling, handsome president. Dennis is at his best playing light comedy. He should stick with it.

Mandy Moore proves she really is an actress. In her best outing, ďChasing LibertyĒ (2004), she was the Presidentís sweet daughter looking for romance. Here sheís even cheaper and shallower than Britney Spears.

The story is irrelevant. This is Grantís movie and he makes the most of it. Williams also gives an intriguingly funny performance as the not-a-serious-jihadist Klein.

As are most satires, this is silly and humorous with good performances. I squirmed quite a bit during the first hour, but Grantís performance is probably worth the price of admission.

April 19, 2006