This year is the tenth anniversary of American Beauty, a movie that I hate with a passion.
The film explores a tired old story of an aging, balding suburban white male who is faced with an impending loss of his sexual function at takes it out on women in his life. The angst of a middle-class man of middling intelligence, mediocre personality and really boring everything else confronted with andropause and rebelling in extremely tedious and predictable ways has been explored by film after inane film, novel after insipid novel. As if we didn't have enough with Woody Allen's, Philip Roth's, and Co's endless attempts to create a mystique of male andropause, we had to relive the tired litany of grudges that a suburban white male has accumulated against life by the time of his middle age crisis.
The protagonists of the suburban andropause genre arrive at a painful realization that the only role they play in the world is to bring home the paycheck and pretty much shut up afterwards. This unpleasant insight, however, never motivates them to look for the reasons why they ended up this way. They never acknowledge that the only alternative to this kind of existence is not the life of fame, fortune, adventure, and excitement. Rather, the only other possibility in life that they had from the outset was that nobody would need them even for the limited purpose of bringing home the paycheck and fading into the background after that.
The male creators of the andropause genre invariably take out their anger against these unseemly realities of white suburban male's life on female characters. Kevin Spacey's character takes petty revenge for not understanding him (as if there were all that much in him to merit some kind of a profound understanding) on his wife and daughter by salivating after his daughter's teenage friend. Mina Suvari's cheerleading character is objectified as a piece of meat that is willing and eager to be consumed by the uninspiring middle aged protagonist. Kevin Spacey is, of course, a little less ridiculous in the role of a man desired by adolescent women than Woody Allen, which is probably the only saving grace of this movie.
Other than the tired plot structure, the film is unbelievably pretentious. Its heavyhanded attempt to reveal to the viewers the big news that suburban life isn't perfect is laughable simply because it would be pretty hard to find any one in need of such a revelation.