Magazine article The Spectator

Dreamy Moments

Magazine article The Spectator

Dreamy Moments

Article excerpt

American Dreamz 12A, selected cinemas

C.R.A.Z.Y.15, selected cinemas

What a relief it must have been for Hugh Grant when he realised he could relax and play bastards. What torture it must have been to be made housewives' choice after playing characters so totally unlike himself (Charles in Four Weddings, the nincompoop in Notting Hill, Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility).

With what joy must he have delivered the role of Daniel Cleaver, Cleaver the handsome rotter for whom Bridget Jones sported those giant pants.

Then Grant was on a roll. His haircut for About a Boy caused almost as much controversy as Jennifer Aniston did with hers in Friends. He played a bastard leopard-type who changes his spots - i. e. , female fantasy made flesh - and was widely praised. In Love, Actually he was one of only two actors who needn't be ashamed of themselves (Emma Thompson was the other), and aced as the Prime Minister we all wished we had, just for a day: fun and quite filthy, and hot for the tea lady. He also called Margaret Thatcher a 'dirty bitch' - which is how, oddly enough, he addressed Bridget Jones, and indeed in American Dreamz he takes one look at Sally Kendoo (Mandy Moore) kissing for the cameras and whispers in an awestruck voice, 'Dirty bitch.' Perhaps it's just something that pops out when he's enjoying himself.

So American Dreamz is directed by Paul Weitz, who made American Pie, About a Boy and In Good Company with his brother Chris. It is a satirical comedy about a talent show, 'American Dreamz': its competing contestants, its rapacious host, its guest judge the US President (Dennis Quaid), and a young Middle Eastern immigrant who. . . actually, I'd better stop there.

More broadly, it is about brandishing the American ideal - 'American Dreamz' (with its huge domestic and global audience) is the kind of show watched by other nations who want to believe that the American dream can be made real; they don't see the fix it really is. The show is used as a PR tool by the American administration - spooky Chief of Staff (Willem Dafoe, as a Cheney/Rumsfeld hybrid) attaches President Staton to the show because his ratings are plummeting and he needs the publicity.

'American Dreamz' is hosted by Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant), a nasty, cynical, brutish popinjay not entirely unlike Simon Cowell in terms of personality but obviously about ten thousand times more attractive, despite hideously patterned shirts and English teeth. …

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