American Dreamz sneak

April 7, 2006

So we at Cornell Cinema were “treated” to a sneak preview of the new movie “American Dreamz,” courtesy of Universal. That was on Wednesday, but I’ve been busy, so bear with me, gentle reader.

Universal provided the cinema’s managing director with a script to read by way of introduction, which obviously caused him great pain in places (“Universal reminds you that American Dreamz cancome true!”). The studio also provided swag in the form of t-shirts with lines from the movie that were raffled off as ushers went up and down the aisles with black collection boxes for those wishing to donate to the cinema (“it’s just like church!”). In an orgy of self-referentiality, the audience was invited to compete by sending in videos of themselves singing the movie’s “theme song,” titled, I kid you not, “Dreamz With A ‘Z.'”

In spite of this, as a fellow projectionist exclaimed while bursting through the booth door at the end of the show, “that was so much better than I expected.” Not to say it’s particularly life-changing or memorable; but it is in fact quite competent, and certainly has no reason to be ashamed of itself. A satire of politics and American Idol, from the director of “American Pie,” could have gone horribly wrong, but somehow failed to. Humor-wise, it’s hardly an “Airplane!”-style laughfest but it definitely has its moments.

Interestingly, the characters are permitted a lot of nuance. The President character, in some respects a clear send-up of Bush, isn’t evil or particularly stupid; he’s merely kept isolated from the real world, is unclear as to why he even bothered running for office, and is caught carefully going through The Guardian when he discovers newspapers. The host of “American Dreamz” is a superficial cad, but he’s perfectly honest about it. And so on.

The movie even explicitly poses the question “how can a country as willing as it is to let foreigners take a crack at success here still act with such disregard for them when they’re still in other countries?” It’s a complex question, and not one that gets answered. All things considered, American Dreamz seems to take the position that, even though good things may happen to bad people and vice versa, we’ll muddle through somehow. There have been worse philosophies.

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