Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres and On Demand from director Paul Dektor and Vertical is the story of a man going through the economics of life with AMERICAN DREAMER.

Dr. Phil Loder (Peter Dinklage) is a divorced college professor of economics who spends his time thinking of writing the novel and buying a house. Showing up to class is becoming a drudgery with the constant daily parking vs. ‘read my paper’ visit from Craig (Danny Pudi). Believing that home ownership is out of reach, real estate agent/friend Dell (Matt Dillon) keeps him in the loop about availability but their relationship is edgy.

Looking through real estate pages, Loder comes across a beautiful house on the lake that is worth millions but the asking price is $249,000 – with a caveat. The elderly woman, Astrid Fanelli (Shirley MacLaine), who owns the house will continue to live there and upon her death the house will revert to the buyer. Loder and Dell get together to look over the contract and he moves into an upstairs room that leaves less to be desired.

Already under a lot of pressure, Loder discovers that there are other members of Astrid’s family. One of them is daughter Maggie (Kimberly Quinn), a legal eagle who has her eye on Loder and makes it clear that she will make sure that the deal is thrown out. She and the family don’t want him to have the house at all.

When Astrid begins to show her health problems, Loder finds himself connecting with the woman on many levels. That’s probably the only thing working at the moment as he has trouble at school and basically with everyone around him except Astrid. When it comes time to make a decision to hang on or walk away, Loder needs to decide what will work for everyone, and that includes Dr. Phil Loder!

Dinklage as Loder is a man clearly going through a deep life crisis. He has a dream, in fact a few dreams, of being a homeowner and when he sees the lake house, he thinks he’s found Nirvana. Even Nirvana comes with a few hiccups and Loder quickly finds out what those are. Dinklage is just so amazing in this role because he gives us every emotional roller coaster of the human condition and some make me laugh and some make my heart hurt because it is truth-speak. This story is a fantastic show of why Dinklage seems to choose wisely in the direction is acting should go. He fits beautifully in all genres.

MacLaine as Astrid is a spunky, charming, snarky and upfront woman who owns this beautiful house on the lake. Meeting Loder for the first time, her snarky is hilarious and I can’t stop laughing. MacLaine on screen, all throughout her career, is such a talent actress who seems to choose roles where she can be charming but I definetly love the ones where she is snarky. There is also a mystery to this character that only MacLaine can pull off and she does exactly that.

Dillion as Dell is just a ridiculously disturbing and laughable character yet I’m not sure if that was the point. Don’t get me wrong, I laughed myself silly in the scenes between Dinklage and Dillion so I’m going to take that. Pudi as Craig is the biggest whiny person one could ever find on campus. Granted Loder wasn’t exactly nice to him but, that doesn’t mean he is going to get away with his bit of nastiness. I’m not going to lie; he made me laugh up to the very end.

Shout out to Danny Glover because when he goes through his private eye pictures, I literally could NOT stop laughing.

Other cast include Michelle Mylett, Donald Heng, Garry Chalk, Rebecca Olson, Brendan Riggs, Kimberley Shoniker, Raresh DiMofte, Frank Warburton Bailey III and Danny Glover.

Vertical Entertainment is a global independent distributor that offers a unique wealth of experience minus the studio costs. They have won a Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Actress for Molly Shannon’s role in OTHER PEOPLE and the film won a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Film Limited Release, Best International Film for Babak Anvari’s UNDER THE SHADOW, a BAFTA and three Independent British Independent Film Awards as well. For more go to

AMERICAN DREAMER starts out addressing the impossibility of the average American owning a home. Loder puts it to his students why this is but when it comes to his turn to be part of the home owning experience, he finds a creative and interesting way to make that happen. The problem is, if it is too good to be true, it probably, most likely, oh hell, IT IS!

I love the cast that has been assembled to tell this story and they just bring the dark comedy, twists, turns and eventual outcome that just works. I have to admit I wouldn’t mind doing the same thing Loder did (but with a little more explanation of conditions for sure) because he is correct. It is the only way to live the American Dream.

Now, the twists and turns would drive anyone nuts so Loder’s reaction, especially the latter classroom scene, is hysterical but more a true reaction by anyone really. He is not only dealing with a reactionary real estate agent, a certain student, an angry lawyer and a shocked private investigator – but he worries about a lady he hardly knows. That’s a lot of emotional eggs not wanting to stay in one basket.  

That being said, I’m on Loder’s side.

In the end – we all want a place to call home!



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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.