“American Dreamer”


Metacritic (6/10), Letterboxd (3/5), Imdb.com (6/10), TMDB.com (6/10)

Is “the American Dream” still alive and well, or is it a pipe dream whose time has come and gone (and perhaps never really was)? That’s the question rhetorically posed in this modestly entertaining fact-based debut feature comedy from director Paul Dektor, which examines the efforts of an optimistic yet cynical economics professor/would-be novelist (Peter Dinklage) with meager means who repeatedly attempts to buy a home far above his pay grade. He’s discouraged by his frank but somewhat oily real estate broker (Matt Dillon) from continuing in this futile Quixotic pursuit until he finds an offer that seems too good to be true, one proposed by an eccentric wealthy widow (Shirley MacLaine) who’s in the early stages of dementia and is fiercely defended by her daughter (Kim Quinn), an astute lawyer determined to liquidate the deal before she and her heirs get swindled. The result is a comedy of errors with warm, fuzzy edges that makes for an often-sweet and tender comedic romp, despite an occasional overreliance on slapstickish humor to sustain laughs. The script is full of delicious little twists and turns, though sometimes the overall narrative doesn’t hang together quite as well as it could have due to its inconsistent character development and occasionally meandering story flow. However, the film’s fine ensemble cast capably holds this project together, thanks to the fine performances of its principals and the solid work of its supporting players, including Danny Glover, Danny Pudi, Michelle Mylett and Raresh DiMofte. “American Dreamer” is far from epic cinema, but it’s certainly an enjoyable watch and a good first effort from the filmmaker. With some further refinement and more experience behind the camera, here’s hoping we can expect more and better work from this promising first-time director.