Want to see a really weird movie? Go for “American Dreamz.”

Janelle has a car for the week, so we decided to FINALLY hang out tonight — she goes to Sacred Heart, which is just across town, but we never see each other due to both being carless. But we had a little “date night” of our own — dinner at Joe’s, browsing travel books and gossip magazines at Borders, and then the movie.

This movie claims not to be a satire, but it is — of both President Bush and American Idol. Dennis Quaid plays a very Bush-esque president who has just won reelection, is waging an unpopular war in Iraq, and hasn’t read a newspaper in years. (Bush has said that he rarely reads the paper himself.) He opens a newspaper and immediately withdraws into his room for weeks on end, stunned by all the things he’s learning, including that there are three kinds of “Iraqistans.”

Meanwhile, a show called American Dreamz, basically American Idol, is run by Hugh Grant’s character. Mandy Moore plays a faux-white-trash girl who gets chosen to be on the show, and she has the perfect storyline — her boyfriend, Chris Klein (who she doesn’t love and only stays with him for publicity) joined the army, got shot on his first day there, and returned home an injured Iraq veteran. At the same time, an Iraqi kid named Omer, whose mother was killed by an American bomb and is training to become a terrorist, is sent to live with relatives in California because he sucks as a would-be terrorist and has a fondness for showtunes.

The show, in need of an Arab contestant, picks Omer to be on the show as well — and the terrorists decide that since the president is going to be a guest judge on the finale, this is the perfect time for Omer to use a suicide bomb.

Honestly, it sounds so awful when you juxtapose the terrorism with the comedy, but it works surprisingly well. Omer is a likable character, and you want him to succeed. But I wish that they showed more footage of the show — particularly having the contestants sing popular songs well or cheesily. It wasn’t nearly as funny as it was implied. And so much of it was disjointed. There were a lot of “Why would they want to do that?” moments for me.

But still, there was something that kept me really invested in it. And Chris Klein is GREAT at the end — it calls to mind some scenes from American Pie. I liked this movie. It was very unique, and more daring than most I’ve ever seen. It’s up there with Stephen Colbert’s speech at that White House press dinner event (which was AWESOME!).

The director, Paul Weitz, directed American Pie, About a Boy and In Good Company as well. I would say American Dreamz is the weakest of the four (I haven’t seen In Good Company but I heard it was really, really good). Still, though, I enjoyed it a lot. It’s worth seeing. Give it a whirl.

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