I love any movie with a message of "When your life is dull and pointless, just give up all responsibility and regress into your childhood."
This film is American Beauty, the story of Kevin Spacey as a normal, dysfunctional guy who pretty much quits on life for a while and becomes a horny teen-ager again.
Personally I don't know why he stopped at his teen years. I mean if you're gonna regress, I say dig deep. Run around in your undies and fling poo at everyone! Eat tape. Now that's what I call
Annette Benning plays Spacey's dysfunctional real-estate agent wife, he has a dysfunctional teenaged daughter, a dysfunctional militant neighbor with a dysfunctional drug dealing weirdo son, and a
dysfunctional attraction to his dysfunctional daughter's dysfunctional high-school gal pal.
Also, a lot of the film is shot on grainy video (the dysfunctional neighbor's dysfunctional son tends to record everything he sees with his dysfunctional palm-sized camcorder) so you, the audience,
often feel like you're peeping through windows at these very sad people. So in a way, you come out feeling slightly dysfunctional too.
Thing is, it's a pretty good movie.
Kevin Spacey is great. Just great. The man is a wonderful actor, and he does a great job with this juicy, spicy, dysfunctional role. Annette Bening is also quite good, though I felt she did a
little pushing at times. But that's OK, she's a class act, and dysfunctional people push things to the limit.
American Beauty is not Ghandi: The Sequel or anything, but it is quite good. And it brings up a lot of very interesting conversation topics. Makes you really start to question society and
individualism and the freedom of spirit. As we watch the dysfunctional neighbor's dysfunctional son videotape everything, we begin to wonder what kind of society have we created where so much of our
information comes from a small console in our living room. Are we becoming a society that doesn't really see something until they see it on a box? Does this character need his dysfunctional view
screen to comprehend his world? Or does spying on his dysfunctional neighbors become ok when he's doing it through a videocamera? He's not spying in person, he's watching it on his own personal TV.
Makes you think. Makes me think a lot. In fact my head hurts, so I'm gonna start talking about the skin shots.
In a brilliant marketing move, the sex objects of this tale are under-age girls. And they tend to partially and dysfunctionally disrobe. How cool is that? OK, yes I felt a little dirty, but all
disrobing was very vital to the story of the film, and it helped develop the characters, so it's ok.
And I've got to say that there's suddenly something very sexy about mounds and mounds of rose petals. Personally, I can't wait to bathe in them. Should be fun.
The one problem I have with this film is how it endorses exercise. At one point, to impress a girl, a guy starts to work out, jog, be healthy. I don't like the precedent this sets. Women may start
to expect us men to be in shape. How am I supposed to stay in shape and still watch over 20 hours of football a week?
Anyway, I'm giving American Beauty 4 dysfunctional Babylons. Those are like regular Babylons, but they have a hard time staying out of trouble.
Just to remind you all of my function in this three ring SMC circus: I edited out the phrase "pepperoni nipples" in this week's review.
You don't have to thank me.
Directed By: Sam Mendes
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari, Scott Bakula and umpteen rose petals.
A couple of weeks ago I asked you all to name the hidden superhero secret identities. 461 of you tried. 269 of you got all 10 correct. Here are the answers:
Arthur Curry - Aquaman
Clark Kent - Superman
Bruce Wayne - Batman
Linda Danvers - Supergirl
Billy Batson - Captain Marvel
Peter Parker - Spiderman
Dr. David Banner - The Incredible Hulk
Wally West - The Flash
John Henry Irons - Steel
Kyle Rayner - Green Lantern
The main mistakes the rest of you made were a) missing Aquaman entirely, b) thinking Supergirl was Mrs. Marvel (that would be Carol Danvers, not Linda) and c) thinking Captain Marvel was Shazam. He's
not. I looked it up.
Also, I want to thank all 461 of you, plus 129 others, who wrote to tell me that Dr. David Banner was the TV Hulk, not the comic hulk. You can stop telling me that now. I know.
Anyway, I randomly selected two, yes two winners to enjoy a brunching Shuttlecocks T-Shirt, so congratulations to Kirk Anderson and Sara Shoys. An email is on it's way to the two of you with lots of
important information that we don't want the rest of these silly people to know. So don't tell them! It'll be our little secret.
Thanks all for playing, and I'm sure we'll have another contest very soon.
The Self-Made Critic