When Ken Finkleman's The Newsroom premiered on the CBC in the late nineties, it was hailed as a caustic comedy from one of Canada's most brilliant grumps. But that was 20 years ago – a long stretch of time during which the writer-director seems to have dulled, rather than sharpened, his satirical edge. (Does anyone, even those heavily invested in Cancon, retain fond memories for post-Newsroom projects such as At the Hotel and Good Dog?)
Finkleman's new effort, An American Dream, only underlines how flat his sensibilities have become, its through-line being the stupid-easy target of American idiocy, a layup the filmmaker mostly botches. Following the plight of everyday American William Bowman (a flat Jake Croker) as he makes his way through the worlds of high finance, evangelicalism, Homeland Security and other dispatches from the land of opportunity, the film purports to be a ho-ho evisceration of everything America holds dear. But thanks to dead-in-the-water gags (the big, bad Wall Street firm is named World Domination Finance) and juvenile delivery, An American Dream makes a great case for why Canadians should be barred from even gently poking fun at our neighbour to the south.