The last movie I saw at SXSW was also the most commercial film I saw, the film that will likely get the widest release: American Dreamz, which was written and directed by Paul Weitz. Weitz, who attended the festival's closing-night screening with actors Dennis Quaid and Sam Golzari, also wrote and directed In Good Company (which also starred Quaid) and co-directed American Pie and About a Boy. American Dreamz is Weitz's first foray into political comedy. I think he should have stuck with teenage sex comedies and Nick Hornby adaptations.
After the screening, Weitz explained that he got the idea for the film after watching TV footage of American Idol at the same time as the war in Iraq. I feel that American Idol does not mix well with U.S. foreign politics. It's like that time in college when I decided to mix orange juice and Jack Daniels. Admittedly, that was all we had left at the party and my judgment was also rather impaired, excuses that won't work nearly as well for the American Dreamz filmmakers. Let's hope they don't suffer from their unfortunate mix the same way I did with mine.
American Dreamz focuses on several related stories. Hugh Grant plays Tweedy, the Simon Cowell-esque producer/host of the Idol-esque show American Dreamz. He decides to boost ratings by finding some novelty contestants: one Jewish, one Middle Eastern. Omer (Sam Golzari), the Middle Eastern contestant turns out to be—you'll never believe this—a former terrorist. Meanwhile, WASP-y contestant Sally Kendoo (Mandy Moore) schemes to win by exploiting her relationship with a veteran of the Iraqi war (Chris Klein).