Mandy Moore, Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid, Chris Klein,
Willem Dafoe, and Sam Golzari star in a film directed by Paul
Reviewed by Molly Freedenber
American Dreamz doesn’t even pretend to be about
something other than President George W. Bush and his chief of
staff (Dennis Quaid plays the puppet president with Willem Dafoe as
the silent mastermind), our involvement in Iraq (Sam Golzari’s
character’s mom was killed in Baghdad), and American Idol (the only
thing missing is the aging, bulimic, former pop star judge). And it
doesn’t have to. The writing and acting are so spot-on that it
doesn’t seem to matter whether the film is a spoof, a satire, a
parody, or just a bit of really timely serendipity.
The story centers around the jaded host of a TV talent show, the
manipulative teen from Ohio who will do anything to win the show,
the Middle Eastern would-be terrorist who’s up against her, and the
depressed president who guest hosts the show as a publicity stunt.
The plot is so contrived that it wouldn’t have worked if it weren’t
so damn funny.
But the real highlight here is Mandy Moore, who draws on the
same tactics she used in Saved to play Sally Kendoo with just the
right balance of camp and sympathy. Though Moore may channel both
Britney “with-one-‘t’” Spears and Kelly “first-American-Idol”
Clarkson in her role as a TV talent show contestant, she once again
proves that she is more talented, substantive, and enduring than
either of her pop tart peers.