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Derrick Borte
Jim Gaffigan, Robbie Jones, Isabel Arraiza
Writing Credits:
Derrick Borte, Daniel Forte

After a double-cross during a heist, Frank needs to recover lost memories to find the culprit.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 11/19/2019

• “No Free Rides” Featurette
• Previews


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American Dreamer [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 11, 2019)

Though best known for comedic fare, Jim Gaffigan appears in a more dramatic role with 2019’s American Dreamer. In an attempt to earn money, Cam (Gaffigan) takes a gig as a driver for a ride share company called HAIL.

This introduces him to many different passengers. One stands out, though, as Cam often chauffeurs Mazz (Robbie Jones), a small-time drug dealer.

When Cam’s financial issues become dire, he resorts to desperate measures, and he decides to kidnap Mazz‘s toddler son. Inevitably, this leads toward complications.

Gaffigan’s performance becomes the most appealing aspect of Dreamer, as he lends the appropriate sad sack vibe to Cam. We get hints of his troubled past without too much exposition, which I appreciate.

Cam offers the kind of character Philip Seymour Hoffman excelled at, and Gaffigan holds his own. He might not be in Hoffman’s league, but he creates a believable personality.

Unfortunately, Dreamer doesn’t give Gaffigan or the story much room to go anywhere. While I do appreciate the way the movie doesn’t spoon-feed Cam’s biography, it doesn’t develop the narrative or characters in a way that makes this a compelling ride.

We know Dreamer won’t deliver a happy ending, as this kind of tale simply can’t follow a path with a positive payoff. The question becomes whether or not it can at least bring some thrills along the way.

That answer would be “no”, as Dreamer seems surprisingly sluggish. Occasional moments of suspense arise, but we don’t invest in the characters or situations enough to care what happens, so drama remains infrequent.

Despite some occasional twists, the movie simply lacks much meat on its bones. It attempts suspense and tension but it can’t deliver enough substance to satisfy.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

American Dreamer appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect mainly positive visuals here.

Sharpness appeared good. A few interiors could be a little soft, but the movie displayed nice clarity and definition most of the time. Jagged edges and moiré effects failed to appear, and I also noticed no edge haloes or print flaws.

In terms of palette, Dreamer favored teal and/or orange much of the time. These hues seemed fine within the visual choices.

Blacks appeared full and dense, while low-light shots gave us acceptable clarity. Nighttime shots tended to seem a bit murky, but not to a substantial degree. Overall, I felt pleased with the transfer.

Though not packed with action, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack accentuated the story. Most of the livelier moments related to “action” beats, so those managed to use the spectrum in a decent manner. Otherwise, the film emphasized quiet ambience and not much more.

Within those gentle confines, sound quality satisfied. Music was full and rich, while effects demonstrated nice clarity and accuracy.

Speech came across as crisp and natural. The mix didn’t do much but it seemed fine.

A featurette called No Free Rides runs 29 minutes, 40 seconds. It provides information from writer/director Derrick Borte, producer Scott Floyd Lochmus, writer Daniel Forte, and actors Jim Gaffigan, Robbie Jones, and Isabel Arraiza.

“Rides” examines the project’s development and story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, the production’s partnership with Old Dominion University and themes. We get a passable overview but “Rides” feels a little thin given the running time at its disposal.

The disc opens with ads for Tone-Deaf, Dead Water and The Command. No trailer for Dreamer appears here.

A tale of a pathetic man down on his luck, American Dreamer comes with potential positives. Unfortunately, it fails to exploit these in a satisfying manner, so it turns into a mediocre thriller. The Blu-ray brings generally positive picture and audio as well as a decent behind the scenes piece. Expect an inconsistent effort here.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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