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American Beauty (1999)

R | | Drama | 1 October 1999 (USA)
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A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.

Director:

Sam Mendes

Writer:

Alan Ball
Popularity
408 ( 49)
Top Rated Movies #70 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 105 wins & 101 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kevin Spacey ... Lester Burnham
Annette Bening ... Carolyn Burnham
Thora Birch ... Jane Burnham
Wes Bentley ... Ricky Fitts
Mena Suvari ... Angela Hayes
Peter Gallagher ... Buddy Kane
Allison Janney ... Barbara Fitts
Chris Cooper ... Colonel Fitts
Scott Bakula ... Jim Olmeyer
Sam Robards ... Jim Berkley
Barry Del Sherman ... Brad
Ara Celi ... Sale House Woman #1
John Cho ... Sale House Man #1
Fort Atkinson Fort Atkinson ... Sale House Man #2
Sue Casey Sue Casey ... Sale House Woman #2
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Storyline

After his death sometime in his forty-third year, suburbanite Lester Burnham tells of the last few weeks of his life, during which he had no idea of his imminent passing. He is a husband to real estate agent Carolyn Burnham and father to high school student Janie Burnham. Although Lester and Carolyn once loved each other, they now merely tolerate each other. Typical wallflower Janie too hates both her parents, the three who suffer individually in silence in their home life. Janie tries to steer clear of both her parents. Carolyn, relatively new to the real estate business, wants to create the persona of success to further her career, she aspiring to the professional life of Buddy Kane, the king of the real estate business in their neighborhood. Lester merely walks mindlessly through life, including at his job in advertising. His company is downsizing, and he, like all the other employees, has to justify his position to the newly hired efficiency expert to keep his job. Things change ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality, language, violence and drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

DreamWorks | Official Facebook

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 October 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

American Beauty See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$861,531, 19 September 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$130,096,601

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$226,200,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS | Dolby

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Annette Bening and a hair stylist collaborated to create a "PTA president coif" hairstyle, and Sam Mendes and production designer Naomi Shohan researched mail order catalogues to better establish Carolyn's environment of a "spotless suburban manor." See more »

Goofs

When Lester first sees Colonel Fitts standing outside the closed garage in the rain, he is quite close to the garage door. But when Lester hits the button, the garage door swings out and Colonel Fitts is standing much farther away. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jane Burnham: I need a father who's a role model, not some horny geek-boy who's gonna spray his shorts whenever I bring a girlfriend home from school. What a lame-o. Someone really should just put him out of his misery.
Ricky Fitts: Want me to kill him for you?
Jane Burnham: Yeah. Would you?
See more »

Crazy Credits

thanks to all at the Donmar Warehouse in London and Dr. Bill and Alice See more »


Soundtracks

All Right Now
Written by Andy Fraser and Paul Rodgers
Performed by Free
Courtesy of A&M Records/Island Records Ltd.
Under license from Universal Music Special Markets
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An American Masterpiece
14 August 2001 | by Smells_Like_CheeseSee all my reviews

This is by far one of the best, if not THE, movies of the 90's. "American Beauty" stole my vote immediately as I started watching it. The idea and concept of "American Beauty" is just some ordinary people on an ordinary block with ordinary lives.

Kevin Spacey plays Lester Burnam, a middle aged married man who has lost some hope in life. He has a job that is degrading, a wife who refuses to show any type of loving emotion towards him, a daughter who practically hates herself, and is judged constantly as a looser. But all of a sudden, he sees his daughter's friend, Angela, and something snaps in him to do something with his life. He quits his job and takes, the dreaded by most Americans, a fast food cook job. He starts working out and doing some illegal substances. Even though this sounds like he is ruining his life, it actually helps him and makes him realize how much he loves "the precious moments in his stupid little life." You have no idea what he is talking about I'm sure, but don't worry, you will some day. Kevin Spacey was by far the best actor in 1999 and deserved this Oscar 100%.

Annete Benning plays Carol Burnam, Lester's wife. She is a very fake and unsuccessful real estate agent who cannot get a sale. Her image in life is "in order to be successful, one most project an image of success at all times". You can tell, she is not happy with her marriage and starts to have an affair with the big boss of the real estate company. Again, seems horrible, but it helps her in the end. Annete was unfortunately robbed of an Oscar for this film.

The supporting cast: Thora Birtch who plays Janie, Lester and Carol's daughter, is extremely depressed and hates her body and herself. But when she notices a strange boy next door and develops a relationship with him, she realizes how precious life is and starts communicating with her family. Mena Suvari plays Angela, Janie's best friend, Lester's crush, and a girl who is clearly insecure despite her attempts at showing her sexy side to every guy in town. Wes Bentley plays Ricky, the next door neighbor boy who looks at something as simple as a bag being tossed in the wind as something beautiful. Some say that this was a very stupid scene, but I disagree. His dialog was perfect and made us look twice at something so simple. He won most of our hearts despite having somewhat of an arrogant attitude. Wes without a doubt got robbed of a nomination for this movie. Chris Cooper plays Ricky's father, Col. Frank Fits. He is a military Sergent who is very abusive to his wife and son and is an obvious homophobic that turns into an ironic situation in the end. Chris also should've been nominated.

The most stunning character actually to me was Allison Janney who played Barbara Fits, Ricky's mom, and Frank's wife. She was so beautiful and perfect. Her scene in the front room with Frank and Ricky, everything is so quite, and she says "I'm sorry, what?". Ricky says "Mom, no one said anything". When Ricky gets kicked out by Frank after a horrible accusation, Ricky says "Mom, I'm leaving". Instead of being like the average mom and trying to stop him or say things will get better, she knows this is best and says "OK. Wear a raincoat". Allison was just amazing and didn't get enough credit for her role.

If there could have been nominations for every role in this movie, they were well deserved. This is a terrific movie that should be watched by every adult. It'll make you look again at your life and think. What a great movie.

10/10


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