Monday, May 28, 2007

Everybody else is doing Memorial Day stuff. I'm going to do a movie review.

I very rarely see movies in theaters any more. Mostly because people, as a whole, suck. (Have I said that before?) For example, we went to a theater the other day (summer blockbusters often require the Big Screen), and I ended up with some cackling idiot behind me who talked to the screen. Apparently, the advent of the VCR took away the inclination of parents to train their children with the most important life lesson of all:
Shut the hell up during the movie!
So my wife and I get most of our movie-watching experiences at home on DVD. And the other night, we were looking for a random piece of fluff to watch - nothing too intellectual or high-brow. And since we'd enjoyed the Hugh Grant/Drew Barrymore vehicle "Music and Lyrics" last week, we decided to rent the other music-related Hugh Grant movie from last year, "American Dreamz."

Let me make the following disclaimers here:
1. I'm not the world's biggest Mandy Moore fan. In fact, I make it a policy to avoid movies by pop princesses. But that's just me. I've never seen a Britney Spears movie (is there more than one, yet?). I never even saw a single episode of that Jessica Simpson reality show. On the other hand, I did see Dick Tracy, despite the fact that Madonna was in it. Likewise Vibes, with Cindy Lauper. (You see? I'll never get those hours of my life back. It's important to stick to your principles, even in movie-watching.)

(It's strange, really. Drew Barrymore, then Mandy Moore. Mr. Grant seems to be picking his female costars from the ranks of women who most of America think are amazingly beautiful, but who I don't really find attractive. It's like he's stalking me, trying to force me to watch movies with his costar, despite my disinterest in them. But I suppose that my paranoid fantasies are entirely unrelated to the subject matter at hand. As is my nightmare of Ann Coulter as a dominatrix, for that matter...)

2. I often enjoy the work of Hugh Grant. (But that's because I'm amazingly shallow.)

3. I have never seen an episode of American Idol. (Apparently, I'm not shallow enough.)

4. And lastly, I did, in fact, enjoy this movie. But that doesn't mean that I'm not going to find fault in it.
For those of you who haven't seen it, this is a comedy about what happens when a Muslim terrorist cell infiltrates the cast of a show identical to American Idol, in a plot to use a bumbling (but music-obsessed) suicide bomber to kill the bumbling (but recently-reelected) President of the United States because of the damage he's caused in the Middle East. Hijinks ensue.

There are other "Dreamerz" (American Idol lookalikes) who I can recognize, even having avoided the show - Clay Aiken, Bo Brice, and a third one who might be Fantasia but I don't know enough about her to recognize any of her quirks.

Apparently, somebody wanted to make a parody that had enough pop culture (Mandy Moore, American Idol, and to an extent, Hugh Grant) that they could skewer the President, and still make money in red states. (And maybe they had dreamz of Joe Sixpack in Utah seeing this movie, having an epiphany, and suddenly becoming a Democratic activist. Yeah, good luck with that.)

This is a hugely unsubtle movie. Everything was painted with these huge, wide strokes that would make a housepainter proud. I'm not going to use the phrase "thinly-veiled" to describe anything, because this movie had no veils at all.

Not even on the Muslim women.
~~ ba-DUM!! ching! ~~
(To be honest, there were no Muslim women in evidence, except for a few who were thoroughly Americanized. So no burka's at all. There were no women at the terrorist camp at all, unless they were behind a couple of the cheap fake beards, doing some kind of Life-of-Brian homage. But I'm going to assume they weren't, at this point.)

My biggest argument with this movie, aside from the huge, unforgiving club they use to hammer their points home, would be the fact that their Bush-clone is a mindless drone whose only responsibility for the mess in the Middle East is the fact that he allowed himself to be led into it.

I can accept certain aspects of that.
a. George Bush is a hugely unimaginative C-student who is more than willing to allow himself to be led by people who appear to know more than he does.

b. George Bush has little or no knowledge of the Middle East.

c. Other people have instigated all of the damage he has caused in America and around the world.
However, rather than allowing himself to be led blindly into this mess, I personally believe that George Bush walked into everything with open eyes. He may not have been smart enough to set anything in motion himself, but he is the man in charge, and he's just too flamingly stupid to see that he's leading the charge into a bloody morass that's going to take years, if not decades, to dig our way out of.

In the movie, the Bush-clone is actually a good person, if stupid, who would stop the mess if he could. I don't believe that.

But, sure. See American Dreamz. Just don't expect anything world-shaking.

On the other hand, maybe you should rent it for your teenaged daughter and those proto-Republican mall-girls she hangs out with. Maybe it'll work on them.

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