Big question: Small town cutie (Mandy Moore) aims for fame on the "American Idol"-esque show "American Dreamz," but an Arab contender (Sam Golzari) is sent to bomb the finale (literally) and kill the dimwitted U.S. President (Dennis Quaid). Is this a full-length satire or an over-extended SNL skit?
Skip it: No legitimate characters or performances here, just impersonations of the easy target clods that grace the stage of "American Idol" and White House press conferences. The film is optimistic that a Middle Eastern contestant could be voted into reality show finals by an open-minded public unafraid of terrorist ties, but disconcertingly suggests that those unbiased people would be wrong.
Catch it if: You'd host weekly TV watching parties for a show that ended last season with an onscreen terrorist threat.
Bottom line: "American Dreamz" scoffs at the notion of genuine ambition--which, to be fair, doesn't seem to top the "Idol" agenda--and depicts anti-American terrorists as secretly loving our show tunes and TV guilty pleasures. This is all a gag, but like crushed "Idol" castoffs, the joke is on us.
Bonus: Attention, copy editors looking for work: With the false street cred of titles like "Phat Girlz" and "American Dreamz," Hollywood appears in desperate need of a few good spellcheckers.
Directed and written by Paul Weitz; cinematography by Robert Elswit; edited by Myron Kerstein; production design by William Arnold; music by Stephen Trask; produced by Weitz, Rodney Liber and Andrew Miano. A Universal Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:47. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for brief strong language and some sexual references).
Martin Tweed - Hugh Grant
President Staton - Dennis Quaid
Sally Kendoo - Mandy Moore
Chief of staff - Willem Dafoe
William Williams - Chris Klein
Martha Kendoo - Jennifer CoolidgeCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times