American Dreamz (12A) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

Paul Weitz's writing and directing credits ­ Antz, About A Boy, In Good Company ­ make up a strong CV, but this latest should be quietly excluded from it. A satire on the modern obsession with celebrity, it stars Hugh Grant as a lowlife Svengali whose hit TV show American Dreamz favours pushy egomaniacs and desperate wannabes over the actual possession of singing talent. A classic formula, in other words.



Mandy Moore plays the Britney-lookalike who'll do anything to win, Sam Golzari is the gentle immigrant who's been primed to detonate a suicide-bomb at the final. His target: guest judge the US Prez himself, played by Dennis Quaid as a puppet-moron, and Chief of Staff Willem Dafoe.

The film takes on more than it knows how to handle, and what starts out as a standard poke-in-the-eye of TV switches its satiric focus to the incompetence of terrorists and politicians, the heartlessness of celebs, and even the mess of Iraq. But its barbs simply aren't sharp or funny enough, and while Grant seems to be enjoying himself as the nasty bastard, his sense of mischief shows up the film for the limp dishrag it is.

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