In the furthest recesses of the New Mexico desert, not far from where the first atomic bomb was test detonated, a team of scientists is positing a theory so awe-inspiring that it'd make Robert Openheimer mushroom cloud in his grave: The funny song parodies of Weird Al Yankovic, it would seem, lose their resonance once his source material fades from the American cultural landscape. For better and worse, American Dreamz, writer/director Paul Weitz's satirical look into popular culture in a post-9/11 America, exemplifies the Yankovic theorem. Brimming with clever parody, the movie generates a few laughs, yes, but it ultimately fails as satire, largely because the comedy is one giant disposable reference. After the main subjects of this satiric roast, American Idol and the current Bush administration, are relegated into Trivial Pursuit questions and history books, the movie will no longer connect with audiences.
In this PG-13-rated comedy, the host (Hugh Grant) of an American TV talent program welcomes the opportunity to have the clueless U.S. president (Dennis Quaid) appear as a guest judge on the evening a contestant (Sam Golzari) plans to Jihad himself.
If the film were made in the vein of a Scary Movie or, even better, an Airplane romp, its place on the comedy mantle would be secure. These films succeed as parodies. Dreamz, however, aims much higher, trying to conquer the broad satirical heights of Dr. Strangelove and, more recently, State and Main. And Dreamz, Senator, is no Strangelove.
Bottom Line: Bad Dreamz.