Friday, April 21, 2006

YOU'VE BEEN OMER-IZED: Let's start with the good about American Dreamz--the original songs by Stephen ("Hedwig and the Angry Inch") Trask and Paul Weitz are brilliant, nailing silly country cliches ("Mama, Don't Drink Me To Bed Tonight"), inept "rockers" ("Rocket Man," performed by Trey Parker), and even sappy ballads like "A Moment Like This" ("Dreamz With A 'Z'"), and consistently nicely performed. Mandy Moore is also good as a cocktail of Kellie Pickler, Kelly Clarkson, and Britney Spears--a girl smart enough to use her perceived stupidity to her own advantage with an amazing set of pipes. A couple of folks do nice work in supporting roles (Seth Meyers is shockingly funny, and Judy Greer has a couple of hysterical scenes.)

So what's wrong? Pretty much everything else. The "political" material amounts to little more than an extended "Bush is Stupid!" joke, which stopped being funny sometime around, oh, 2003, and POTUS is miraculously changed during the course of the film, apparently as a result of reading volumes of Federal Reporter and West's Federal Practice Digest, straight through, from an oblivious idgit idgit aware that he's an idgit. (My experience indicates that reading volumes of Federal Reporter straight through has little effect on a person other than putting them to sleep.) The biggest problem is that rather than firing the satirical gun at one target, Weitz has chosen about 20, ranging from American Idol to Xenophobia, with stops along the way at Us Weekly, Terrorism, and Matisyahu. Because Weitz hasn't focused his script like a laser, rather than hitting hard and punchy, he's fired birdshot at a big target. Sure, there's some pellets that hit, but they're not focused enough to make an overall impact. One of the big disappointments of this year.

Another mystery, born from a trailer before the film--why is Pulitzer Prize winner David Auburn writing a screenplay for a Keanu Reeves-Sandra Bullock Somewhere In Time knock-off? Actually, Auburn's involvement might actually get me to see this one.

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