Producers: Rodney M. Liber, Andrew Miano,
Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz
Written by: Paul Weitz
Cast: Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid, Mandy Moore,
Sam Golzari, Chris Klein
This one surprised me. I walked in expecting a somewhat toothless
comedy (How hard is it to make fun of “American Idol”
and the President?), but when I walked out, I was shocked that this
movie went as far as it did. Why would a movie that’s advertised
as a cheery comedy that pokes fun at pop culture turn out to be
a dark comedy that ends with a bang? I don’t know. Maybe Paul
Weitz wanted to trick people into seeing this movie—the
kind of people who need to have their worldviews tipped on their
sides. Maybe the head honchos marketing this flick don’t even
realize how fucked up it is. I can’t tell you why they aren’t
presenting this as a dark comedy. I can only tell you that the humor
is as black as the charred remains of a suicide bomber.
President Joe Staton (Quaid) has just won a hard-fought
reelection campaign and is struggling to find a raison d’être
for his second term. Taking a radical shift from the norm, he reads
the reports from the outside press and is no longer suckling from
the presidential briefings that his chief of staff (Dafoe)
has been forcing down his brain-hole for years. He’s shocked
to find that there is a strange, nebulous color between the black
and white of the spectrum that used to guide his decisions. Meanwhile,
Omer Obeidi (Golzari) has been discharged from
al-Qaeda boot camp and is now a sleeper in the U.S. He has been
ordered to live a normal life with his (filthy fucking rich) cousins,
only to rise from the shadows and strike at Babylon when he is contacted.
That was never supposed to happen, but when he accidentally lands
a spot on the hit show, “American Dreamz,” a horrible
man gives him a horrible task. In Smalltown, USA, Sally Kendoo (Moore)
has just broken up with her boyfriend William Williams (Klein)
after receiving the good news that she, too, will be a contestant
on “American Dreamz”. She knows that she needs to do
more than sing her heart out in order to win: She needs to tug at
the heartstrings of America. Sally discusses this with Martin Tweed
(Grant), who develops a fast fascination with the
cutthroat bitch. Tweed apparently has a thing for the kind of girl
who doesn’t wet herself with giddy glee when the famous host
of “American Dreamz” graces her with his presence.
This movie does a wonderful job following the main characters: the
President, Omer, Sally, Martin Tweed, and, to a lesser degree, William
Williams. I love all of them. If the character is not directly funny,
then comedy has a tight orbit around him. There’s also a score
of side characters who are given sufficient attention to be memorable,
but not enough to be cumbersome. Well, I guess Sally’s mom
got pretty old, but her agent wasn’t bad. The gangsta Jew
was also hilarious. Shalom bitches! But there’s a serious
side, too. What does fame do to a person’s mind? How can you
maintain a grasp on reality when your life is surreal? And, of course,
the philosophical musings of a prospective suicide bomber shouldn’t
be taken lightly. To what degree are Americans responsible for the
actions of America? Can the infliction of suffering really make
the world a better place? Who is to answer for Omer’s mother,
killed by an American bomb?
To sum up, this is a damn funny movie. Not the funniest, mind you,
but still damn funny. Take someone who likes a good joke and isn’t
disturbed by fucked up things. Use your discretion as to whether
or not you are going to pay for both tickets. Oh, and make sure
you see this at a theater that lets you get buzzed. Two beers might
make this a five-star movie.
Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.
Itís worth a full-price ticket.
Itís worth a matinee ticket.
Wait for video rental.
Check out the video from the library, if you must.
While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...