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On paper, it's promising, if hardly radical. Hugh Grant plays the host of a top-rated American talent show. On his quest for ratings, he casts his net far and wide hunting for hopefuls, bringing in the likes of Mandy Moore as he does so. And a wannabe terrorist too. Which doesn't really make too much sense when you watch it either. Throw in an insecure President of the United States--played by Dennis Quaid--who finds himself, thanks to his key adviser (Willem Dafoe) as a guest judge on the show, and you have something of a mess.
What's most surprising is that behind the camera is Paul Weitz, who's of late built upon his initial success with American Pie and brought us the excellent About A Boy (which again starred Grant), and the woefully-underrated In Good Company (which starred Quaid). Yet he's simply unable to work his magic here, as the film simply fails to gel. As a satire, it's targets are too soft and obvious, as a broad comedy it lacks laughs, and even as a straight hour and a half of easy entertainment, it's far too jumbled to be able to relax and enjoy.
There may be an argument that in the midst of all of this is a decent enough movie struggling to break through. But the point is that it doesn't, and given the calibre and curriculum vitaes of some of those involved, American Dreamz has to be classed as a crushing disappointment. --Simon Brew