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American Dreamz

British TV host Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant) is enjoying success as the host of the No. 1 reality music show ‘American Dreamz’. Always on the lookout for new contestants, he discovers Sally (Mandy Moore) an ambitious teen who will do anything to be crowned the winner, even if it means getting back with her boyfriend William (Chris Klein), who she has just dumped. Another contestant is Omer (Sam Golzari), a guy who loves Broadway shows, and dreams of making it big in musicals. However Omer hides a secret. He is part of an Arab terrorist group, and has been ordered against his will to assassinate the President (Dennis Quad), who is making one of his first public appearances on the show after a nervous breakdown. This leads to a bizarre chain of events as reality and fantasy merge, all for the entertainment of the viewing public.

Director Paul Weiz targets the dubious phenomenon of reality TV, with this scathing satire. Hugh Grant perfectly captures the slick host, who casts his shows as if they were dramas, and slots in the stereotypes to which the audience can relate. Tweed knows that his show is rubbish, but wants to keep the trappings of fame to which he has become accustomed. Mandy Moore is wonderful in her role, successfully portraying the desperate wannabe that can be seen on any of the reality shows airing. Dennis Quad is amusing as the clueless President, who lets his staff run the country for him. Willem DaFoe appears in another great role as the scheming Chief of Staff who wants to control the media and how the President is portrayed. Sam Golzari is excellent as Omer, giving the films best performance, making his clumsy character one with plenty of charm and sympathy.
‘American Dreamz’ shows how the cult of celebrity has taken over, and how people can exploit their fame for all it’s worth.. This is a generally funny film, which tries to aim at several targets at once, but only occasionally hits the bullseye. A problem with the film, is that the political angle doesn’t really work. Whilst it’s good to see a satire having some political bite to it, the script isn’t as strongly written to support this. Had the director concentrated more on the audience and the contestants of the show, the messages that he was trying to deliver could have been better heard.
Since the beginning of the decade, reality TV has boomed, with the by-product that imaginative and escapist shows have been either taken off the air or consigned to the late night viewing slots. While some people find the reality genre entertaining in its own way, they can’t take the place of well written and acted shows. This film uncovers how artificial reality TV is, and how manipulation of both audiences and contestants can lead to twisted versions of the truth.
A reasonably amusing film that captures fire all too frequently.

Rating out of 10: 6

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