AMERICAN DREAMZ is the latest film from the director of About A Boy and In Good Company, Paul Weitz. Pitched as a social satire, the film's targets include American politics, the war on terror and the cult of celebrity, and there's a surplus of crazy antics and surreal characters. The film begins the day after the US elections, with President Stanton (Dennis Quaid), deciding to read the newspapers. All his information is usually filtered through to him by a collection of minders, especially his micro-managing Chief Of Staff (Willem Dafoe). What President Stanton reads, shakes him up so much that he goes into hiding and teeters on the brink of a nervous breakdown. There's little that his kind First Lady (Marcia Gay Harden) can do to help him, except pop him a couple of happy pills. With the President off the radar, his approval ratings plummet and the Whitehouse publicity machine jumps into overdrive. To convince the American public that all is OK with their leader, his staff book him as a guest judge on the most popular TV show in America, American Dreamz. American Dreamz is an American Idol style, reality show, hosted by a smarmy, Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant) doing his best impression of the real life Idol host, Simon Cowell. Tweed is bored with the same types of Americans appearing on the show season after season ' predictable, little talent, fame seekers. He's determined to spice up the program, so he handpicks the next season's contestants. They include a woman after his own heart, super-bitch / white trash, Sally Kendoo (Mandy Moore), a sensational rapper and Orthodox Jew, and a bumbling terrorist in waiting, Omar (Sam Golizari). Omar is a kind soul, who just happens to be trained as a terrorist. He wasn't cut out for it though, preferring show tunes to bombs. He's been living in America, awaiting orders, which were never going to come, until his sleeper cell discovers that the President will be appearing on the program. Omar is ordered to win through to the finals, so he can make an explosive impression. American Dreamz makes cheeky comments about a host of post-September 11 issues, but it's not an effective satire, nor is it that funny. The best satires are merciless, while Weitz's writing and directing plays it too safe and never shows a strong, divisive voice that says anything compelling beyond - George Bush is dumb, terrorists singing show tunes is funny and reality TV is stupid. The jokes are too flimsy, when they could have, and perhaps should have, bitten hard - shocking us with their comments. Even good performances - especially a ruthless Mandy Moore and a perplexed Dennis Quaid - can't save this essentially silly film. There's nothing worse than seeing actors deliver lines that are supposed to be funny, falling flat time after time. The film also feels simplistic and smug, particularly with its attitude towards reality TV and the kinds of audiences who enjoy shows like Idol, who I doubt take themselves that seriously to start with. And anyway, it's hard to make fun of cheesy reality shows, when they do a perfectly good job of it themselves.