Kevin Spacey Lester Burnham
Annette Bening Carolyn Burnham
Thora Birch Jane Burnham (nice hoots, that's all I can say)
Wes Bentley Ricky Fitts
Mena Suvari Angela
Peter Gallagher Buddy Kane
Allison Janney Barbara Fitts
Chris Cooper Colonel Fitts
For those who haven't already been offended by my 'nice hoots' remark, this is THE kind of film for you. If you're already pissed off about my "Udders Uber Alles" philosophy, don't go see "American Beauty." It's not for you. It's for your weird neighbor named 'Phil' who makes you wonder why his den lights are on until 3 in the morning.
Or maybe not. Figure it out for yourself.
So what's the story? The story is simple: middle-aged white male suburbia angst. The main character, Lester Burnham (aptly portrayed by Kevin Spacey), is undergoing a bit of a mid-life crisis. Actually, it's a life crisis. He feels dead inside. His job is micro-managed, his wife is a too-tidy-for-sex- prim-and-proper-creature who somehow managed to squeeze out a pup (Jane Burnham) sometime before the glacier froze everything from her waist down.
Anyway, Lester's plodding through each day as a wage-earning zombie until he happens to meet his daughter Jane's friend, Angela (played by a supposed sex-kittenish Mena Suvari who -- to be quite honest -- excited me about as much as a cold artichoke). However, it's very apparent that Lester's got the hots for her.
Following Lester's encounter with Angela, he begins to change. He starts doing all manner of things differently. First, he stops playing along with his ditzy wife's "success charade" at her real estate gatherings. Next, he starts working out. (Oh, I do relate to that.) Then he befriends a classmate of his daughter; one Ricky Fitts (as played by Wes Bentley). Next thing you know, he's working out, toking dope, and generally having the time of his life.
There's a good deal of introspective musings that go on throughout the course of this film, but I'll leave the gentle reader to experience those for her or himself when they see it. Oh yeah, did I mention that Jane shows off a really fine set of hoots? Wow-wee. Freeze-frame that, dump it to file, enlarge it to an 8x10 and print that sucka out for me. YiYiYiYiYi!
*ahem* As I was saying, this movie does have its high points and it has its touching moments as well. However, the ending -- which I won't spell out here as I don't believe in spoilers -- is a real disappointment. It leaves the whole film with a sense of futility that just doesn't seem proper, given the metamorphosis of the main character.
All told, I'd recommend this film...but only for those who know what true angst means and are thick-skinned enough to truly enjoy the beautiful humor that hides within a snide remark.