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American Dreamz: Or Satire For the Masses.

Old 03-24-06, 01:25 AM
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American Dreamz: Or Satire For the Masses.

I had a chance to see a special advance screening of American Dreamz this evening. While the screening was heavily promoted on my university's campus, no less than forty people showed up (and I only made it on a whim as I was allowed to get off work early). I've been really looking forward to this film as I'm a fan of Chris Weitz's previous efforts (more specificly American Pie and About a Boy) and I dig the cast they got for this flick. In the end, I enjoyed the film. But, as I noticed, there were a lot of pissed off folks (mostly of the younger college crowd) after the end credits began rolling.

American Dreamz is not a smart satire, it's satire-lite. It's satire for the mainstream who want to be entertained. Granted, I was entertained and I enjoyed a lot of the film. In jest, it pokes fun at George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Simon Cowell and his American Idol-phenomenon, and the American people in general.

The problem that American Dreamz suffers, is despite not being a smart satire, is that it's too "smart" for it's target mainstream audience. The audience that'll go see this movie want to see light humor with a touch of drama (like Weitz's previous two efforts) as the trailer for this flick portrays. The film has it's moment of light and cute humor (mostly with the character of the rejected terrorist Omer), but the rest is anything but. The film is surpringly clever with it's satire against the Bush administration and American Idol and the film is a strong contender for having the darkest (but very abrupt) ending released apart of a mainstream comedy in the past few years.

American Dreamz is an entertaining comedy and a majority of the cast does deliver (even Mandy Moore, who portrays a character similar to that of her's in Saved) and it's certainly one of the better fllms released so far in this abysmal year. While it is released on time where American Idol is bigger than ever and the Bush administration is receiving their poorest public ratings yet, I just don't think middle America is ready for a film that takes pop shots at things they love ever so dear to their heart. That and I don't think a majority of the 40 people I saw this with even realized it was a satire.

Then again, I live in a red state.
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Old 03-24-06, 01:42 AM
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Originally Posted by me
The first movie of the day for me was American Dreamz. It's the new comedy from Paul Weitz, the director of American Pie, About a Boy, and In Good Company. Cast members include Dennis Quaid, Mandy Moore, Hugh Grant, Marcia Gay Harden, Willem Dafoe, and Chris Kline. It's basically a satire on American culture and the current presidential cabinet. Those of you who are bitching about V for Vendetta, woohoo wait until you see this one.

In the end, this film was just...bleh. Simply put, the political and cultural humor isn't at all clever or subtle. It's just sort of there. While I laughed a few times, for the most part the satire was so dumbed-down that I just didn't find it at all funny. Add to that the fact that the movie haphazardly switches gears from satire to seriousness and back again with absolutely no rhyme or reason and you're left with a jumbled mess that isn't quite sure what it wants to say or be. The performances are just as hit-or-miss, with some moments featuring spotless delivery, and some that appear to be nothing more than an actor going through the motions (and this goes for the entire cast). I wanted to like it going in, but I'm sad to say that this one will be quickly forgotten...if it even gets noticed at all.
My thoughts on this one, copied and pasted from my SXSW thread. Seth Meyers was the best part of the movie in my opinion. I thought his character drove the most clever and subtle satire in the film. In the end though, this movie felt like nothing more than a SNL skit stretched into a feature length film...and the screenplay was far too haphazardly constructed for it's own good. In the end I couldn't like this one simply because I can't appreciate a movie that had no real purpose or identity. The film didn't know whether it wanted to make you laugh or make you think, whether it wanted to make you smile or make you become dramatically and emotionally involved. Beyond that, the satire in the movie was so dumbed down that I almost felt insulted. It nearly crossed the line from satire to charicature. Simply put, I thought it was a mess despite it's few redeeming qualities..

-JP
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Old 03-24-06, 08:14 AM
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can you put in spoiler tags the "abrupt" ending?
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Old 03-24-06, 09:39 AM
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I enjoyed American Pie, In Good Company, and About a Boy immensely (I guess that makes me a Paul Weitz fan), so I was also looking forward to this movie. The trailer I saw didn't show any political humor (that I can remember). It looked like AI was its sole target - and I hate that show. I get enough Bush admin. humor watching "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" every night. Oh, well. My expectations are lower, but I'll still likely go see this one.
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Old 03-24-06, 09:44 AM
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Is this the movie where the terrorist infiltrates an American Idol-style competition? I saw the trailer, and it fell flat for me.
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Old 03-24-06, 11:53 AM
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Yes, that is the one. I don't think I will see this, ever.
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Old 03-24-06, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by NatrlBornThrllr
In the end I couldn't like this one simply because I can't appreciate a movie that had no real purpose or identity. The film didn't know whether it wanted to make you laugh or make you think, whether it wanted to make you smile or make you become dramatically and emotionally involved. Beyond that, the satire in the movie was so dumbed down that I almost felt insulted. It nearly crossed the line from satire to charicature.
You are right that the film really has no identity, it seems to just be ridiculing what's popular at the moment while taking shots at the current political administration, but I thought the point of the film was that the film's characters were just caricatures of their real life counterparts, not satirical at all. As it's seen Quaid's character is nearly retarded, Grant's character is an egotistical bastard, and so on and so on.

can you put in spoiler tags the "abrupt" ending?
Spoiler:
Within the span of five minutes, Chris Klein's character finds the bomb that the Omer character was supposed to have strapped to him and kill the president with. He goes out on stage while his girlfriend (Mandy Moore) is ready to preform to kill himself and her as he just found out that their relationship was a sham for the show and she was fucking Grant's character. The president tries to calm him down, but everybody runs out of the studio. Chris Klein begins singing to the camera and Grant tries to get it on television. The bomb goes off killing Klein and Grant. Mandy Moore delivers a brief epilogue about what happened to everybody else, end of film.
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Old 03-24-06, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Matthew Chmiel
...but I thought the point of the film was that the film's characters were just caricatures of their real life counterparts, not satirical at all. As it's seen Quaid's character is nearly retarded, Grant's character is an egotistical bastard, and so on and so on.
Yeah, that's what gave me the SNL-skit vibe.

-JP
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Old 04-22-06, 10:01 PM
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This film took forever to setup its punchline, and 20 minutes into the film, I knew where it'd go, and by then I had stopped caring. The film's attempt at satire was so labored and unfunny, it was like watching a comedian with a 10 minute spot who gets booed within the first minute and loses the audience for the remaining, floundering 9 minutes of material. It was a pretty boring film-viewing experience, and would urge anyone thinking about going to see this film to save their money and go see something else, anything else.

I give it 1/2 stars or a grade of F+.
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Old 04-24-06, 07:25 PM
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I too saw this movie this weekend, and I can definitely see how the reviews for this have been split so 50/50. However, I'm in the group that actually really enjoyed the film and dare I say it..."got omerized.". I thought it was very funny (especially for an individual like myself who is sick of reality TV and like to see it get lampooned). I thought the acting was really good, and unlike most movies that I've seen lately this one has stayed with me for the last few days and the ending actually took me by surprise which hasn't hapenned in quite sometime. I'd definitely give it a B/B+ and look forward to checking it out on DVD again here in the next few months (judging by the box office, this one should be out by July).
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Old 04-26-06, 02:54 PM
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Another bit for the end that wasn't mentioned above:

Spoiler:
Chris Klien's character WINS despite not being in the competition


A geniune WTF.
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Old 04-26-06, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Josh
Another bit for the end that wasn't mentioned above:

Spoiler:
Chris Klien's character WINS despite not being in the competition


A geniune WTF.
It's satire my friend.

Not good (or even decent) satire, but satire never the less.
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Old 04-26-06, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Matthew Chmiel
It's satire my friend.

Not good (or even decent) satire, but satire never the less.
Yeah...and I agree with the assessment that this movie's message and tone will way overshoot it's target audience, much like Election. Maybe Chris Klein is more of a dramatic genius than we give him credit for.
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Old 04-26-06, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Josh
Yeah...and I agree with the assessment that this movie's message and tone will way overshoot it's target audience, much like Election. Maybe Chris Klein is more of a dramatic genius than we give him credit for.
The main difference being "Election" is a great film. "American Dreamz" is not.
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Old 04-27-06, 10:27 AM
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Bush bashing? Making fun of American Idol? Sounds fun to me. I'll never get bored of that. Regardless if the film is "great" or not I'll probably enjoy it for those reasons alone.
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Old 04-27-06, 10:47 AM
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This seems like a really broad satire, so broad I'm not sure it's really satire.
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Old 04-27-06, 11:50 AM
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In baseball terms, the pitcher just beaned the moose mascot sitting behind the on-deck circle.
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Old 04-27-06, 11:52 AM
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Satire... that which closes on a Saturday night.
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