American Beauty

Year: 1999
Directed By: Sam Mendes
Written By: Alan Ball

RYAN’S REVIEW

I got my first job when I was16, in the year 2000, at a video rental store called Action Video.  In 2000 when I started, this movie was the most popular film rented. We only carried VHS tapes then, we even had a machine that’s sole purpose was to rewind the tapes. It seems like forever ago now, eleven years later.  This movie is dear to me because it takes me back to that time, a time when life was different.  So much changed so suddenly shortly after this film came out.  DVDs for one, the cell phone explosion (Ricky does his business with a pager), digital media, social networking, and the evolution of the internet. Some of these things were around when this movie was made, but they hadn’t become center to our society the way they are today. American Beauty shows us a different America, one that’s easy to forget these days.

This was the first film directed by Sam Mendes, who was recommended by DreamWorks founder Stephen Spielberg for the job.  I am a fan of Mendes, specifically because of this movie, I also thought Road to Perdition was excellent.  Alan Ball, more famous today for his role in the popular television series True Blood, wrote the screenplay and received a lot of credit for the film’s success.  Kevin Spacey won the Academy Award for this movie, it’s unfortunate that it has all been downhill since this movie.  I think Kevin Spacey is a great actor, but the last ten years of his career has been full of duds.  A couple of his movies have been alright but I tend to forget them because his performance failed in comparison to this one.  The rest of the cast was fantastic, Thora Birch, Mena Suvari, Annette Bening, Chris Cooper, Wes Bentley, and Peter Gallaher all did very well in this movie.  However, I think that only Chris Cooper has been able to continue making good movies.  The others tend to pop up here and there occasionally and you remember they were great in this movie.

As I have already mentioned, this movie came out during my formative years and it meant something to me then and it does now too.  I found comfort in the message this movie sent and learned to love the art of film making with this film.  You glance at suburban America and everything seems normal, but when you “look closer” you can see how messed up everything is.  My family situation was bizarre at the time, it was comforting to see a movie about a much more bizarre family. I found this story fascinating and the way the film was made entrancing.  I would say Lester Burnham had a big influence on the person I was during my later teenage years, and maybe to an extent today. I think this is an awesome movie and I love it, if you haven’t seen it then it is definitely worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I love any movie that starts out by saying, “This is the day that I die.” We spend the entire movie waiting for him to die somehow. By the end it seems like everyone has a reason to want him dead and you have no idea when or where it’s coming from. This movie is a must see movie for movie lovers. It is an award winning movie to top it off. It has something for everyone and I think it paints the picture of a hopeless man in the most perfect of ways. From jacking off in the shower to the lava lamp he sets up in the garage, I love the way the movie portrays Kevin Spacey. It is also through and through one of those eerily creepy movies. It is strange and some of my favorite ones are strange stories. I think this movie is also very nostalgic for me. Ryan used to have this poster hanging up in his room at his mother’s house when we first started dating. It was one of the first (of many) times that I heard “What do you mean you have never seen American Beauty?” I love this film and I definitely think anyone would benefit from watching it. Besides, since the rapture didn’t actually happen…what else is there to do?

NEXT MOVIE: American Pie (1999)

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