American Dreamer
Paramount // PG // $14.99 // May 3, 2005
Review by Daniel W. Kelly | posted April 28, 2005
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version
The Movie:
American Dreamer was a mid-80s gem I caught on cable numerous times, because it starred JoBeth Williams, who played a movie mom to perfection in one of my favorites, Poltergeist.

With American Dreamer, she is once again a mom—a bored housewife named Cathy who is obsessed with reading romantic mysteries. To her delight, she wins a writing contest and is whisked away to Paris. Only a short time after she arrives in Paris, she is knocked unconscious in an accident. Upon waking, she believes she IS a character from her favorite novel, and drags an unsuspecting but loveable guy (played by Tom Conti) into her fantasy. Before long, fantasy becomes a reality of true crime—complete with a bit of pillow talk!

American Dreamer reminds me very much of Foul Play. They're both funny, cute, slapstick comedies involving a woman who gets unexpectedly involved in a life-threatening predicament. Tom Conti AND his character reminded me of Dudley Moore and HIS character in Foul Play. But American Dreamer is a bit more quaint, and should appeal to the kind of women who read romantic mystery novels.

This romp is saved from cliché by a twist at the end. Thanks to JoBeth Williams's effortless handling of the comedy and her chemistry with Tom Conti, American Dreamer still remains a movie that gives me a chuckle.

The DVD

Video:
I always appreciate when studios do a fine job with the transfers of older films. With an anamorphic aspect ratio of 1:85:1, this film looks pretty darned good. It has hints of grain (brings me right back to the 80s), and slight pink tint. But the darks are deep and the colors are rich and vibrant, with just a smidgeon of saturation. The edges are quite sharp, and the print is impressively clean.

Sound:
You have 3 options: English 5.1 surround, 2.0 surround, and French. I opted for 5.1. Either something is wrong with my copy, or they sort of forgot to add the rear channels. Numerous attempts to get the rear speakers going failed, so I was left with a 2.0 experience. It was a pleasant experience. Left/right travel was fine, dialogue was crisp and clear. However, bass response added up to a big fat zero. I turned the subwoofer all the way up, and still nothing.

Extras:
There are 16 thumbnails in the scene selection, and an option to turn on English subtitles. Very simple release.

Final Thoughts:
American Dreamer showcases JoBeth Williams's abilities as a comic actress, and reminds me why I wanted to see her in more films back then (even if she wasn't playing a movie mom!). Here, she's charming playing off Tom Conti, in the type of light, silly, romantic comedy you just don't see anymore.



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