Monday, January 29, 2007

American Dreamz (2006)

I've never watched American Idol, except for one special episode where they showed a bunch of people who didn't make it onto the show. (I kind of forced Ivy to watch that one with me; it was spectacularly horrible.) American Dreamz is a satire of the show, but also of so much more. For the first few minutes of the movie, as the scenes switched from the expected American Idol satire to a befuddled president of the United States to a middle-eastern terrorist training camp making a “training video,” complete with a terrorist director yelling, “Cut!”, I was afraid I’d found something too Saturday Night Live-esque, but it turned out to be fairly good. (I like Saturday Night Live, but their sketches should really never last longer than a few minutes.)

I liked Dennis Quaid’s portrayal of the president (with a Southern accent and creative words like “Iraqiites”, he's a gentle satire of our present commander-in-chief), who decides to start reading the newspaper, suspecting that he’s been a puppet of his vice-president (Willem Dafoe with a paunch and mostly bald head). Marcia Gay Harden is the first lady, genuinely interested in her husband’s health and happiness. Both are simple-minded but sincere and actually change and grow in the course of the movie. There’s an Arab-American family that’s hilarious—teen son and daughter do nothing but shop and otherwise indulge themselves. When their cousin shows up straight out of the terrorist training camp, awaiting his orders, the beautiful daughter says to him, “We are going to party like (singing) rock stars!” Terrorists watch American Dreamz from their tents and vote with their satellite phones. I did not like the Jew who appears on the show singing suggestive rap songs, though I did like Hugh Grant’s line when they’re looking for contestants: “Get me an Arab! Get me an Arab and a Jew!” And one of his minions responds, “How about an Arab-Jew?”

It’s not exactly light-hearted comedy, but it was funny.

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