Peter Dinklage performs an amazing misanthrope. That a lot is true — he is obtained the right face for it, so expressive and able to conveying each tortured emotion his character goes by means of. And Phil is sort of the misanthrope, a perpetually sad cynic who goes by means of life as if the world has it out for him. In some methods, it does; we be taught by means of pained interactions with Phil’s “pals,” together with the interstitial glimpses of his ongoing novella, that he was an orphan who bounced from foster house to foster house. That is why he is at all times longed to personal a house of his personal — even when this pipe dream has earned him the mockery of Dell who, regardless of his skepticism of Phil having the ability to afford to purchase a home, helps him with the deal that lands Phil the home of his goals. With Dinklage’s unbelievable ability as a performer, it must be straightforward to sympathize with Phil, particularly as this good deal falls aside, proper?
The issue is, Phil can be an fool. You’d suppose, as a professor of economics at Harvard, he would suppose by means of this harebrained contract that leaves him dwelling in an upstairs house of a grand home, ready for the home’s proprietor to die. But it surely’s solely when he strikes in and realizes that the proprietor, Astrid, will not be as decrepit as he was result in consider, nor as alone on this planet. She the truth is is hale and wholesome, bustling round the home with a wine glass in hand, or across the completely manicured yard with shears in hand. And he or she’s regularly visited by a military of her children, one in all which is a ravishing lawyer (Kimberly Quinn) who is straight away contentious with Phil. It is clear that Phil has been scammed or misled in a roundabout way, and he reacts within the worst method attainable: by sneaking round Astrid’s home and hiring a personal investigator, getting in every kind of scrapes (with extra damaged glass and extra cringey sexual exploits than you’d count on a traditional particular person to come across) that result in him getting more and more injured and disillusioned.
It is an outlandish premise that solely will get goofier because the movie goes on, which turns into an issue, as a result of the tone of “American Dreamer” would not get any much less dour. In truth, it appears to undertake Phil’s entire cynical worldview, which makes the movie extra tiresome to look at because it goes on. Which is a disgrace, as a result of there are moments of vivid wit and glowing humor that trace at a greater film hidden inside right here — one which is aware of how you can higher make the most of Dinklage’s abilities, and one which has a much less hilariously simplistic view of girls — if solely the script by Theodore Melfi (“Hidden Figures”) might’ve been punched up a little bit. And director Paul Dektor, making his function directorial debut, appears misplaced with the movie, sometimes throwing in stylistic touches that really feel distinctive sufficient to reside as much as the movie’s “darkish comedy” label — a bizarre fantasy right here, a stable understanding of shade palette to mirror temper there — but it surely all turns into a bit muddled and broad.
Dinklage and Dillon are enjoyable to look at, particularly after they’re onscreen collectively, and there may be the enjoyable occasional look by Danny Pudi as Phil’s coworker, however the central relationship between Dinklage’s Phil and MacLaine’s Astrid feels half-baked. Dinklage does his finest, and for the primary hour of the movie, nearly makes “American Dreamer” appear definitely worth the heartache and cringe comedy. However “American Dreamer” appears unwilling to embrace the sentimentality that its title suggests, as an alternative couching itself in an irony that retains the viewers at arm’s distance.
/Movie Ranking: 5 out of 10