American Dreamer (1984)

RICK ROSENTHAL

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.  USA, 1984.  .  Story by , Screenplay by , .  Cinematography by , .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .

Made at the height of the popularity of eighties concept comedies, this combination of Private Benjamin and next year’s Desperately Seeking Susan isn’t up to the quality of ‘ lead performance, nor is it campy enough to be remembered with the kind of fondness we now give to a movie like Troop Beverly Hillsbut it does have its moments.  Williams plays a tired housewife and mother of two young boys whose love of romance novels featuring a glamorous spy has inspired her to enter a writing contest looking for the plot of the next book in the series, the prize for which includes a trip to her dream destination of Paris.  Williams wins the contest but her uptight husband () doesn’t want to go on the trip; throwing caution to the wind and encouraged by her very supportive sons, she goes after her dream alone, arriving in the City of Lights and having a gorgeous first day sightseeing when a thief steals her purse and she gets hit by a car while pursuing him.  Waking up in the hospital with a bump on her head, Williams now believes she actually is the heroine of her favourite books, which leads to a shopping montage (cause it’s an eighties movie) and an assumption that everyone around her is a suspect in whatever mystery she has concocted in her confused mind.  Sliding through improbable situations on charm and luck, she actually ends up in the home of her beloved author ( in her last film) whose son () inadvertently becomes Williams’ sidekick as she goes in search of a criminal who doesn’t exist…or does he?  Rick Rosenthal’s uneven direction can never decide whether to laugh at Williams’ character or with her, which is a shame considering the class-act performance she’s giving (just watch her first night in Paris drinking champagne alone and try not to fall madly in love).  If we’re supposed to treat her like a real person in a comically unbelievable circumstance, it might help if her husband was someone we would believe in a million years was someone she’d ever marry (Staley’s performance is directed to be more like a sitcom caricature than a person).  Overall it never sparkles as well as it should, but it’s a lot of fun and a great opportunity to see this wonderful actor in a rare lead role.

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