American Beauty

Director: Sam Mendes
Genre: Comedy and Drama
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, Chris Cooper, Mena Suvari
Box Office: $211,000,000 (Worldwide)
Trivia: The high school campus scenes, including the Spartanette dance sequence in the gymnasium, were shot at South High School in Torrance, California.
Memorable Quotes:
[at the dinner table]
Carolyn Burnham: Your father and I were just discussing his day at work. Why don’t you tell our daughter about it, honey?
Lester Burnham: Janie, today I quit my job. And then I told my boss to go **** himself, and then I blackmailed him for almost sixty thousand dollars. Pass the asparagus.
Carolyn Burnham: Your father seems to think this type of behavior is something to be proud of.
Lester Burnham: And your mother seems to prefer I go through life-like a ****ing prisoner while she keeps my dick in a mason jar under the sink.
Carolyn Burnham: How dare you speak to me that way in front of her. And I marvel that you can be so contemptuous of me, on the same day that you LOSE your job.
Lester Burnham: Lose it? I didn’t lose it. It’s not like, “Whoops! Where’d my job go?” I QUIT. Someone pass me the asparagus.
Carolyn Burnham: What are you doing?
Lester Burnham: Nothing.
Carolyn Burnham: You were masturbating!
Lester Burnham: I was not.
Carolyn Burnham: Yes you were!
Lester Burnham: Oh, all right! So shoot me, I was whacking off! That’s right, I was choking the bishop, chafing the carrot, you know, saying “hi” to my monster!
Ricky Fitts: It’s like God’s looking right at you, just for a second, and if you’re careful you can look right back.
Jane Burnham: And what do you see?
Ricky Fitts: Beauty.
Brad Dupree: Man, you are one twisted Fuck
Lester Burnham: Nope, I’m just an ordinary guy with nothing to lose.

Winner of 5 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Actor and Best Director, American Beauty has some excellent cinematography, hauntingly touching score, and brilliant performances by Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, and Chris Cooper. It has an original storyline. I saw this movie in 1999 and loved it.

It’s a story about a middle-aged married man(Kevin Spacey) who is miserable because his wife (Bening) is a phony, and his daughter (Annoyingly cold Thora Birch) hates him for no reason other than plot devices. That’s another peeve of the film. What did Lester do to make his daughter neglect him? If anything, she should hate her mother (which I think she does too), but Lester is cool to her. Anyways, he’s suddenly sparked back to life when he meets her best friend (the seductive Mena Suvari) and instantly feels he can accomplish anything. Wes Bentley is the weird next-door neighbor who falls in love with Birch and whose father (Cooper) is a homophobic ex-marine and mother (Allison Janney) is a messed up disaster.

A film like this not only entertains while you’re in the theatre but also drops subtle questions in your head about the nature of human behavior and the gulf between fantasy and reality.


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