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My American Beauty Review [SPOILERS]

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My American Beauty Review [SPOILERS]

Old 03-03-01, 05:16 PM
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Wow, I thought this movie was bad. [My opinion]

I saw this movie a few days ago, was all geared up for an Oscar-winning movie, Best-Picture-quality stuff and... yikes.

I'll try to explain why I didn't like this one:
[a couple little spoilers to follow:]

It's a movie about unlikeable people in disfunctional families who do NOTHING to change their lives for the first hour or so. I didn't like the wife, didn't like the daughter, didn't like her girlfriend, didn't like the daugther's obsessive serial-killer-in-training boyfriend, didn't like the stereotyped military father. And I didn't care for Lester, who acts like an ass, extorts money from his boss, takes pleasure in treating his wife like sh!t rather than dealing with their problems and/or just ending the marriage.

The only likeable moment that Lester has occurs at the end of the movie (too late for me)in the scene when ...

SPOILER:
Spoiler:
Mena Suvari's character says "This is my first time" and Lester stops thinking about himself for the first time in the movie.


For a couple better/funnier movies that touch on similar themes (unhappy people in mind-numbing suburbia) check out Slums of Beverly Hills, and Office Space.

They didn't win an Oscar, but...
Old 03-03-01, 05:28 PM
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I agree....which is why my copy made it onto ebay immediately!!!! It was ok to watch once....little replay value for me!!!
Old 03-04-01, 04:09 AM
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Spoilers ahoy!

Spoiler:


With some people, it struck a wrong chord. My parents are members of the ultra-conservative, '50s-style "nuclear family" school of thought, and any movie that discusses masturbation, drugs, teen sex, and voyeurism is destined to offend their sensibilities.

Most liked it, though, and I fall into that group. As veterans (casualties?) of the '90s moviegoing audience, we've grown accustomed to completely plastic, two-dimensional characters: the good guys are always really good, the bad guys are always lacking in any redeeming quality, and we're told who is who within the first 30 seconds of the film.

American Beauty may not break that mold, but at least it challenges it. Lester has some problems, like an out-of-control temper and the inability to contain his fantasies about his daughter's teenage friend - but at heart he's a good guy going through a midlife crisis. Carolyn, his wife, is helplessly rooted in her conventional, but artificial, view of a family - an understandable and frighteningly common flaw. Even Ricky's father, the only real "villain" in the film, has flaws that are understandable. It's an odd mix of social commentary and extremely dry wit that was bound to catch some spotlight, and I think it's well-deserved.



- David Stein
Old 03-04-01, 02:16 PM
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[ SPOILERS TO FOLLOW: skip this if you haven't seen the movie]
|

|

sfsdfd wrote: we've grown accustomed to completely plastic, two-dimensional characters: the good guys are always really good, the bad guys are always lacking in any redeeming quality, and we're told who is who within the first 30 seconds of the film.
American Beauty may not break that mold, but at least it challenges it.
Sfsdfd, I can agree with everything above except for that last phrase "... but at least [American Beauty] challenges it. How?

This is still a bad movie that makes that common mistake of exaggerating its characters - in at least one case to the point of being cartoony. The homophobe military father has to be one of the most laughable stereotypes I've seen in a while. And his zombie wife is a joke. As a moviegoer, when I see characters like this I feel like I'm being talked down to by the movie-maker.
And Lester really is an ass. In real life, people don't just suddenly decide they're going to blackmail their boss. It's not the same degree of 'badness' but the only example I can think of is serial killers. As I understand it, serial killers usually have a history of cruelty to animals or children or whatever. The point being, this stuff just doesn't spring out of no where. I think I've known some potential 'Lesters' and I haven't liked them. I worked with a guy named Jamie who I could picture trying to extort money from his boss. But the guy was conniving, and phony. If you spent any time with him, you knew what he was.
As far as the boyfriend - Ricky- He's fascinated with carnage, death. I swear this is one of those guys that walks into McDonald's one day and starts blasting away.
And I could go on. The wife is a nutcase.

Bottom line, I'm old fashioned enough that I need at least one character that I can like. Someone that I can look at and say, 'yeah, he/she's got problems, but there's still something remotely human about them. They are capable -and willing- to step out of their own shoes and care about somebody.

I didn't get that in this movie. There was a little tenderness between the daughter and her boyfriend, but I guess I was too turned off by the Ricky character.

So to get back to your reply, if you want to see a couple amusing movies about unhappy people - shades-of-grey characters that have at least 1 endearing quality, check out my recommendations - Slums of Beverly Hills, Office Space
Old 03-04-01, 02:29 PM
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You know what really gets me worked up about this movie? The fact that it won an Oscar for Best Picture. I probably wouldn't post this review otherwise.

Take the Oscar away and then it's just another mediocre movie that might be worth a rental if you really have nothing else to watch.
Old 03-04-01, 02:37 PM
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i read the screenplay off the internet before i saw the film and thought it was one of the truest depictions of suburban teenage attitudes i've found. it also had some whimsy and black humour (key word here is humour) that the final film was sorely lacking. the movie palyed like a relentless funeral dirge. i agree-unlikable self obsessed characters w/ hardly anything original or moving to say.

good alternate choices-SLUMS is one of my favorite films.
and for a simialar theme, ICE STORM is far more interesting than AB
Old 03-04-01, 03:40 PM
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Originally posted by Clint Eastwood
You know what really gets me worked up about this movie? The fact that it won an Oscar for Best Picture. I probably wouldn't post this review otherwise.

Take the Oscar away and then it's just another mediocre movie that might be worth a rental if you really have nothing else to watch.

I was kinda wondering about the Best Picture award myself.....I find it hard to believe that this was the best movie released in 1999!!!

Anyone have a list of the movies which were in direct competition with AB???
Old 03-04-01, 09:29 PM
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I agree with Clint Eastwood 100%. The only reason why I rented this was because of the oscar it won. I was so glad I didn't buy it first. I found the characters to be annoying and extremely one-dimensional with no effort to make them even a little realistic or believable. The writer, director, actors, or whoever tried to make up for the character's shortcomings by giving each one a surprise twist personality at the end that was the exact opposite of what you were shown in the previous two hours of the film. That doesn't make a movie good.

And the grocery bag floating in the wind was just so pretentious. There is not hidden beauty in every little thing.

There were much better movies that year.
Old 03-05-01, 09:59 AM
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While I did not entirely dislike the film, I have to chime in and agree that American Beauty is vastly overrated. I also had problems with a few of the characters. I realize that they are just movie characters and it's not a requirement that I like all of them or that they actually resemble a real person, but..... The Marine dad for one...I suppose that there probably are guys that are like him, but it just doesn't ring true to me that a very successful officer like that would be such a mental asscase.

I enjoyed it when I watched this film in the theatres but as I watched the DVD I realized that I didn't care for quite a few of the aspects of it. We all know how messed up everyone's lives are already....show me something new. BTW for what it's worth this DVD has a horrible transfer for a brand new movie, Best Picture no less.
Old 03-05-01, 10:25 AM
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Geez...

Although I too wonder about the awards and accalades this movie received, I really do not think it was as bad as you are posting here. I thought the acters protrayed the characters very well. These people live in our society. Take a look around, you can find the examples of all these people in your neighborhood or in your city. People just want to live outside the realms of their true existence, which is a lot of the plotlines this film had to offer. Sure, there were other solutions to the problems, but those were ignored just as people in our real lives ignore their's. I thought this movie kept a sense of realism by showing how everyday people can easily ignore the obvious and slip into their own little world.

There were a lot more bad films that year than this one.
Old 03-05-01, 11:50 AM
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I really enjoyed the film and thought it was excellent. I didn't think the subject matter was really that far-fetched and don't really understand what people find 'unbelievable' about it. I could relate to a lot of what happened in it.
Old 03-05-01, 12:46 PM
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I personally didn't care for the movie. I had a hard time believing it won an Oscar.

I thought that perhaps, it was a bit too realistic, with no real direction. It wanders aimlessly, much as Lester wanders aimlessly, right up until the final conclusion.

It has it's moments -- real moments of greatness, but these are spoiled by poor pacing, poor direction and poor characters.

At the end, I really wanted my two hours back -- and that's something I don't want very often.


Favorite line: "1970 Pontiac Firebird. The car I've always wanted and now I own it. I rule!"
Old 03-05-01, 10:32 PM
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You all act surprised that it won an Oscar. Consider its competition - it was a really weak year for movies.

- David Stein
Old 03-06-01, 07:30 AM
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Don't even bother buying this DVD
Old 03-06-01, 10:28 AM
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Originally posted by hdjalolo
Don't even bother buying this DVD
unless, of course, you like the movie. believe or not, people do.

DJ
Old 03-06-01, 11:14 AM
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Originally posted by sfsdfd
You all act surprised that it won an Oscar. Consider its competition - it was a really weak year for movies.

- David Stein
1999 a weak year for movies? hardly. 1999 was about three times as strong as 2000 was and it was the best year for film definitely in the last deacade (and I would be able to argue for the last 20 years). it's just that against the 5 films that the Academy nominated for best film, there was not much competition.
Old 03-06-01, 11:16 AM
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I am one of those who really like this movie. I enjoy the dark comedy and the performance of Keven Spacey. If you didn't like it, fine. I don't see why people are shocked that this movie won Best Picture. After all, the Academy Awards are just Hollywood masturbation anyway ....
Old 03-06-01, 11:19 AM
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Originally posted by ckolchak
and for a similar theme, ICE STORM is far more interesting than AB
while I like American Beauty (but have not enjoyed it as much on repeat viewings)...this statement is VERY VERY TRUE....The Ice Storm is one of my favorite films from the 90s and I cannot wait until March 13th. There are those who will not like The Ice Storm who loved American Beauty though. I have one friend who said that she really really wanted to like The Ice Storm because it was so critically acclaimed, but just didn't...and another friend who thought that The Ice Storm was a much much more believable version of American Beauty.
While I don't like the word "version", I understand what she means and totally concur.
Don't miss The Ice Storm, if you haven't seen it, at least rent it if not buy it sight unseen.
Old 03-06-01, 12:20 PM
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Originally posted by garmonbozia
Originally posted by ckolchak
and for a similar theme, ICE STORM is far more interesting than AB
while I like American Beauty (but have not enjoyed it as much on repeat viewings)...this statement is VERY VERY TRUE....The Ice Storm is one of my favorite films from the 90s and I cannot wait until March 13th. There are those who will not like The Ice Storm who loved American Beauty though. I have one friend who said that she really really wanted to like The Ice Storm because it was so critically acclaimed, but just didn't...and another friend who thought that The Ice Storm was a much much more believable version of American Beauty.
While I don't like the word "version", I understand what she means and totally concur.
Don't miss The Ice Storm, if you haven't seen it, at least rent it if not buy it sight unseen.
I may have to do just that....been thinking about it for awhile now!!!
Old 03-06-01, 07:14 PM
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I think this film is fantastic. Certainly will be considered a classic, decades from now.

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