Parents' Guide to

American Dream

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Mob violence, language in unoriginal noir thriller.

Movie R 2021 83 minutes
American Dream Poster Image

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In case you've missed other mob-centered movies that show you what happens when you try to cross mobsters, especially when it concerns money, here's another movie that shows the consequences. American Dream is a noir thriller that follows the action that ensues after a pair of Russian American entrepreneurs make a deal with the devil in the form of a sociopathic Russian mobster eager to prove both his worth and his toughness. The biggest difference between this and other mob-centered movies is that the characters are Russian instead of other ethnicities recently arrived to America who soon learn that the attainment of success in America isn't easy, and for many, offers questionable ethics. Unfortunately, the Russian aspects to this movie aren't explored nearly enough, and while there are some nods to Russian American culture (weddings with vodka shots, etc.), these qualities are forsaken in favor of a shopworn mob story.

It's not a bad movie, but there just isn't enough there to make it a good movie. The "good guys," such as they are, aren't especially likable. They're best friends, and their dream in life is to build and own an apartment complex in Los Angeles, California. The psychotic mobster Yuri, played by Nick Stahl, is perhaps the most fully-developed character in the movie, but even that's an unsuccessful attempt at the murderous mobster/family man dichotomy we've all seen before. After torturing a parking meter attendant who tried to scam Yuri out of some quarters, the audience gets to see that Yuri is not such a bad guy because he has a daughter with whom he takes to his legit business (laundromats) and teaches her about the importance of staying on top of her finances. While there's something almost there in the irony of the title and a slice of the Russian American experience, too much of that gets lost in a mobster-wants-his-money story we've all seen before.

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