Maybe it was because of all the hype this film has been given (by the media and my friends), but I was hoping to have my head taken off at the end (no pun intended). Instead, it reminded me of an adult John Hughes movie, where the people on screen always sounded more clever and witty than people actually are. We all can't have Alan Ball writing our daily dialogue for us. And as wonderful as that would be (I have to see "Towelhead" now; he really should write a movie about the Fitts family), it would suck to have Sam Mendes around to direct your day-to-day comings and goings so damn flatly! (Eeeuuuwww, what a fucked up sentence to write. Thank god this is a blog...)
I recommend seeing Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm" for a more affecting view of families coming apart. "American Beauty" feels sanitized compared to some similar films about male angst and family dysfunction. I liked it, but somehow I couldn't get very close to anyone in it. Give me a Lars Von Trier film about messed up relationships any day. But we can't have a Oscar winning film look that grubby and sound that honest, can we?