American Dreamz (review)
For its first hour or so, the humor is so easy — the president is dumb! Hollywood stars are shallow! — that it’s tempting to use this flick as yet another example of how far beyond satire American society has taken itself: writer/director Paul Weitz’s (In Good Company) efforts here might well be documentary. But then disparate threads come together under its pleasant facade to form a sharply incisive zinger that condemns the American people for, sweet and nice as they may be, being perfectly willing to be manipulated by their leaders and their entertainers as long as the flow of cheap oil and useless consumer products continues. Hugh Grant (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason) steals the show as the host of the nation’s most popular TV series, an American Idol-type contest, on which he forms an unlikely bond with one of the “contestants,” a wannabe pop star played the unexpectedly wicked Mandy Moore (Saved!), and welcomes the dimbulb U.S. president (Dennis Quaid: Flight of the Phoenix, who makes for a far more charming idiot than his real-life counterpart) as a guest host. Grant so underplayes his superstar’s jaded cynicism that it becomes a kind of wisdom: self-centered as he is, he is the only one with any real perspective on “reality” in this world where the word comes with ironic quotation marks around it, and everyone knows and no one cares.