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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Only in America

American Dreamz (2006) on IMDb

Plot Overview

snowboundAmerican Dreamz, a reality TV show like American Idol, is so high up in the ratings the only place it can go is down (oops) to the strato­sphere. Show host Martin “Tweedy” Tweed (Hugh Grant), who's “not a better person” for his fame, is lining up contestants for the new season. Chanteuse Sally Kendoo (Mandy Moore) of Padookie, Ohio, the karaoke champ of her county, is “moderately talented” enough to be selected but not necessarily to win unless she earns it. She wants her career to take off and move her far away from her humble begin­nings. Her agent Chet Krogl (Seth Meyers) suggests she emphasize her white trash roots as, “Everyone in America thinks they're middle class. So they like to have some­one to look down on.”

Mr. Tweed selects (“Bring me some freaks”) a mix (“Hit every demo”) of racially & ethnically diverse contestants, as in a Hank Steinberg novel: (38–39)

Julie sat in the boat with Meagan and Ollie, bobbing slowly through “It's a Small World.” The trippy 1950s-style anima­tronics, the almost hypnotically repetitious song and the slow, rocking motion of the ride seemed uniquely suited to the turbulent state of her mind.

For a moment, Julie was able to see the ride through Meagan's innocent eyes, appreciating the fantasy that all peoples and cultures could some­how exist side by side.

Her work for World Vision had taught her, sadly, that people were essentially tribal, that by nature they almost always needed some kind of Boogey­man to align them­selves against and that choosing one's particular Boogey­man inevitably became a central and inescap­able part of one's identity.

Arab novelty contestant Omer Obeidi (Sam Golzari) is part of a terrorist sleeper cell. Western Command activates him to cut off the head of the serpent when the final round is judged by U.S. President (Mr. P) Joseph “Poopie” Staton (Dennis Quaid.) Mr. P has lately been feeling like window dressing for other heads telling him what to say and do. I'd say some­one is likely to go off script during the finale.


ole gloryThe American dream has it that in a land of equality, any­one can achieve his individual goals by dint of perseverance. After all, didn't Thomas Jefferson say that all men were created equal? As for this sorry world, God was so fed up with it that he destroyed it in Noah's day with a flood. God set up our post-diluvial world to mitigate against wickedness after he, (2Peter 2:5) “spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;”

We got a new and better start after the flood. Trumping Thomas Jefferson's guarantee of the right to life, though, is God's instigation of capital punishment to restrain wickedness: (Gen. 9:6) “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” In this movie a human bomb is to martyr himself as he blasts the person standing next to him.

The limits of Jefferson's right to liberty is given in a tent incident after Noah's flood, involving his sons, (Gen. 9:18-19) “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.” There was soon a revealing incident (Gen. 9:20-23) where it is seen that the line of Ham is morally inferior to the lines of Noah's other two sons, and Noah passed a continuing judgment (Gen. 9:24-27) to help keep Ham's evil in check. Two brothers Shem and Japheth are paired up in the story, and the odd brother out is Ham paired up with his then youngest son Canaan.

God blessed Shem, from whom derive the Semites, and he included Japheth in the blessing whose line spread out all over the world, including to Europe. Canaan is a front runner of Ham whose line is to serve the other two. Ham's line also includes, (Gen. 10:6) “And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.” Cush is Hebrew for black. His people went down to Africa and were later imported to America as Negro slaves.

In the movie a black back stage hand peers through a dressing room keyhole to spy Sally with Tweedy advancing her career. He remarks, “This isn't pretty.” That reflects Ham tattling on his father Noah for being naked in his tent. Sally's pretty face is tattooed on the arm of her boy­friend William “Will” Williams (Chris Klein) who is sent to fight in Iraq. He gets grazed in the arm marring the pretty tattoo, right after the black soldier next to him spoke, “Don't get shot.” That's like the civil rights speeches of the blacks touting equality but ignoring the incident with Ham as if it could be negated.

The press captures a playful moment of the president with his dog Henry, spreading open the canine's ears [see pic on the DVD back cover]. Of course, that will remind us of President Johnson who shocked the public by picking up his beagle by the ears. Johnson signed into law landmark legislation granting Negroes equality, and the voting rights act, as well, putting the states that fought with the Confederacy under federal supervision to guarantee blacks' enfran­chise­ment to vote. It was globe­trot­ting Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under Nixon. who opened up trade to China and many other places. The visual picture here in the movie is of the dog Henry flapping its ears to get off the ground with Negro equality. Alas, there is too much dog to fly that way. And there's too much historical baggage for Negroes to achieve equality at the stroke of a pen.

In the competition moderately talented African-American Cindy is summarily dismissed by the show host saying, “Sorry, love.” He'd been a lot harsher with other contestants who didn't make the cut, but it was Cindy who turned and said, “I hate you!” She had made Whitey her boogeyman, forgetting her ignominious history going all the way back to Ham.

Bible in handThe president has a large open Bible displayed in his bedroom and he holds one in his hand. Yet he never has on his reading glasses to read it. Consequently his biblical knowledge is pathetic. (Heb. 5:12-14) “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righ­teous­ness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Mr. P gets his security briefings in cartoon form. In some of his scenes, an instrumental “Jesus Loves the Little Children” plays softly in the back­ground. It is on the other hand the Confederate states constituting the ‘Bible Belt’, which know the story of Ham and Noah.

God also limited our pursuit of happiness when he confused our languages at the tower of Babel (Gen. 11:5-9) so we'd have a harder time defining our goals to each other. At Mr. P's visit with the premier of China, a language gap limited the diplomatic damage that would have other­wise ensued. God confused our tongues to limit man's evil outcomes.

Production Values

” (2006) was written and directed by Paul Weitz. It stars Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid, Mandy Moore, Seth Meyers, and Chris Klein. Grant plays British Martin Tweed in the style of Simon Cowell of “American Idol.” Playing the president, Staton Quaid looks and even sounds like President George Bush of 2006 vintage. His Chief of Staff is played by Willem Dafoe who is a dead ringer for then U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, down to his receding hairline. The terrorist's cousin Iqbal Riza (Winter Jones as Tony Yalda), who becomes his svengali stage manager, comes across as gender-confused, which works well in a plot involving frequent changes in cultural perspective. Omer dresses modestly per the old country rather than by Orange County extravagant standards. Their female cousin Shabnum “Shazzy” Riza (Noureen DeWulf as Noureen Dewulf) is hot by any standards. Pretty Sally takes to wearing blue jeans with holes in them, whether for fashion or lack of ability with needle & thread is anybody's guess.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for brief strong language and some sexual references. The one implied sex scene occurs behind closed doors. It's a satire more on American life than on any particular reality TV show. There's lots of costuming to cover the various cultural bases. It does a good job with mirrors and reflective surfaces. If any­thing in it offends you, join the club.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

The humor in “American Dreamz” is subtle and easy to miss when following the many changes in cultural perspective and twists of plot. It gets funnier with multiple viewings. I like that it didn't rely on crude language to try to be funny. Christianity was portrayed favorably if a little bit simplistic. The music was diverse. It's a good bet for general entertainment.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Steinberg, Hank. Out of Range. Copyright © 2013 by Hank Steinberg. New York: HarperCollins Pub., first edition. Print.