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PCR # 317  (Vol. 7, No. 16)  This edition is for the week of April 17--23, 2006.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"American Dreamz

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"American Dreamz"  by Mike Smith
For Immediate Release....Citizen X Hero Of The Week....Quote of the Week....Civil War in Iraq. Move On, People, Nothing To See Here!  by Vinnie Blesi
The Guzzos in Hollywood....Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team....Hot Female Teachers Having Sex With Male Students...."Clash of the Titans" and Ray Harryhausen  by Mark Terry
Reunited .... Stunned .... TomKitten .... My Favorite Films -- Part 16: "Field of Dreams"  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid, Mandy Moore, Chris Klein, Sam Golzari, and Willem Dafoe
Directed by: Paul Weitz
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 47 mins

You'd expect many things from writer/director Paul Weitz. You'd expect the comedy of his "American Pie" films. Perhaps you'd expect the satire of the state of the world today like "In Good Company." Or maybe you'd expect a well told story with excellent performances, like in "About a Boy." No matter your expectations, you'll get everything you're looking for in Weitz' newest film, "American Dreamz."

Picture if you will the following: The President of the United States (Quaid) has just been re-elected even though the country is still embroiled in a war in the Middle East. A good man at heart, the President has left the running of the country to his entourage, most notably his Chief of Staff (Dafoe). On television, the most popular show is "American Dreamz," which gives would be singers a shot at the brass ring. Hosted by a very impolite Brit (Grant), the show has gotten bigger each season. Meanwhile, in Iraq, a young man named Omer (Golzari) is doing his best at a terrorists training camp. Only there because he is the cousin of the camp leader's wife, he is more likely to sing and dance to the song "One" from "A Chorus Line" then take part in a jihad. In Ohio, a young girl (Moore) is doing her best to get on the show, no matter the cost. This is the premise for easily one of the funniest films released in a long time.

I'll try not to editorialize here, but I've always imagined our current president exactly like the one Quaid portrays. A good man with a good heart who just doesn't seem to understand the way the world works. Following his re-election, the president decides that instead of his daily briefings, which were often given in comic book form (he is upset to learn that Iraq and North Korea are NOT like Doc Ock and Magneto) he will actually read the daily paper. He is surprised to learn that there are three kinds of Iraqis, and finds comfort when assured he won re-election because, "the Lord picked you." Pushing all of the buttons is the very Dick Cheney-like Dafoe, who is almost like a puppeteer in how he pulls Quaid's strings. Fearing the president's approval rating is too low, arrangements are made to have the president be a guest judge during the finals of "American Dreamz." Aside from Moore, Grant instructs his staff to travel the country in search of "freaks" that he hopes will pull in even more viewers. When an orthodox Jewish contestant is found, Grant insists that his staff track down a musically talented Arab and soon the country is in the process of being "Omerized!" Fans of the popular "American Idol," will easily recognize every satirical scene, from arguing over product placement to the big show number the contestants sing ("it's American Dreamz with a Z). The cast is excellent, with Quaid and Moore easily leading the way. Nice to see Chris Klein and Jennifer Coolidge, probably best remembered as Oz and Stiffler's Mom in the "American Pie" films, get a chance to stretch their comedy wings. Fans of television's "South Park" will enjoy the cameo of co-creator Trey Parker as a Clay Aiken-type crooner, while "Idol" fans in general will be amused at the behind the scenes antics of the show.

A comedy that delivers in every way, "American Dreamz" easily gets my vote. On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "American Dreamz"  Three stars

This week's movie review of "American Dreamz" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2006, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.