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American Beauty

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All-Reviews.com Movie Review: American Beauty

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening
Director: Sam Mendes
Rated: R
RunTime: 121 Minutes
Release Date: May 1999
Genres: Drama, Comedy


*Also starring: Mena Suvari, Thora Birch, Peter Gallagher, Allison Janney, Sam Robards, Barry Del Sherman, Wes Bentley, Chris Cooper



Review by MattAFreakMoviwrtr
3½ stars out of 4

"Cheating Wives, Hating daughters and Psycho neighbors.. Oh My!"

(American Beauty)

Does that sound like a film that was critically acclaimed and a front runner in the Oscar race? Everyone was talking about this bizarre, dark film and for good reason: It's REALLY good.

Sure we've had some impressive 'darker' films with "Seven" and recently "Fight Club", but this sucker is different in that instead of looking at the more brutal sides of life which automatically come with the 'dark' description, this time around we are simply looking at LIFE, normal life, which is perhaps the darkest of all.

For starters, you know you're in for a good, dark and clever time when your main character is Oscar winner Kevin Spacey (Usual Suspects, Midnight in the garden..). Throw in Annette (Regarding Henry, American President) Benning as his wife, and new hottie, Mena Suvari, and you've got the ingredients for a screwed up, feel good, horny little flick. Spacey plays the depressed husband/Father who's marriage is a pathetic joke, is inches from losing his job of 14 years and can't keep from fantasizing about his teenage daughter's best friend..nude and covered in roses. Its when he meets his new neighbor, an odd boy who video tapes plastic bags blowing in the wind, sleeps with his daughter and deals drugs, when things get even more interesting.

Next we have his wife who is a frigid, stepford-like real estate agent who slaps herself and humps her sales competition. And as for his daughter, Thora (Patriot Games) Birch, she's a bored and frustrated high school cheerleader who hates her father ("he squirts in his shorts every time I bring home a new friend"), tolerates her horny best friend's sex stories, and falls in love with psycho freak neighbor boy.

It's a good assumption that Mr. Spacey isn't happy..until he begins to learn how to live for himself. Sure, that means working out in order to bed the teenage nympho, flip burgers and smoke $2000 dope, but hey..he's HAPPY. And as it unfolds, his fellow flucked up family members are also discovering ways to create a new joy or beauty within their lives. For his wife, its doin' the dirty.w/out her husby. For his daughter, it's getting out from under her friend's eye-candy shadow and finding someone for herself.

Its as if this family IS a family due to titles, due to role playing, and they play their individual roles beautifully, but they're all unhappy because something is missing, something that requires a person to become an individual, and sometimes that requires coming to extremes. It also requires the person to accept the negative consequences of their actions.

And though his daughter may seem annoyingly rebellious and his wife pathetically superficial and infidelis, you can't help but be happy for them in their personal dysfunctional discoveries.

This film is simply preaching about individualism; discovering what it is that makes you happy and accepting the price. Only then will you discover the beauty of life.

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