‘Placebos… aren’t they illegal?’ asks Dennis Quaid’s dim President in one of this satire’s better moments. What he doesn’t realise is that he’s the placebo: a useless figurehead used to fool the public while his controlling staff do all the work. Were this the central thread of Weitz’s comedy, it might succeed, but this crams the screen with competing ideas and characters, parodying a reality TV contest, the titular ‘American Dreamz’, as well as the White House. The political connection is guest judge Quaid, the unwitting target of a terrorist contestant who’s recruited at the whim of British host Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant’s Simon Cowellesque character). Mandy Moore’s ruthless all-American contestant and her ambitious mother (Jennifer Coolidge) also amuse, but this isn’t consistent in its comic tone, eventually opting for a broad, light mood that’s at complete odds with the darker potential of its political premise.