Time: 121 mins.
Won Academy Awards for Best Actor (Spacey), Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Picture. Nominated for Best Actress (Bening), Editing and Score.
After I saw this film, it took me a week to get my thoughts together. This isn't a film everyone will like. It took me a long time to come around. It's a powerful story with an intense message that, frankly, quite disturbed me. It also made me laugh out loud, which is not easy with subject matter like this. Mainly because it focuses on a side of life we would all like to never come to light the struggle for happiness in an imperfect world. What's hard about watching this movie, is that the characters are people you see all the time, ones who lost their sense of self somewhere along the way. They're all miserable, trying to play the roles set out for them father, mother, daughter, the popular girl and no one is satisfied. However, everyone plays along...for a while anyway.
Lester's (Spacey) life is not going well. His wife ignores him, his daughter despises him, and he's about to lose his job of 15 years. However, none of that matters after he sets eyes on Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari), one of his daughter's friends. His attentive behavior around her embarrasses his daughter Jane (Thora Birch). To win Angela's heart, he starts working out, trying to become a man worthy of her love. For her part, Angela is amused by Lester's behavior. She enjoys her power over men. It's no wonder he's turned to fantasy over reality.
He and his wife Carolyn (Bening) haven't had sex in ages and she's so wrapped up in her own feelings of self-hate she doesn't even notice...at first. Lester's problems, at least from his own point of view, seem to resolve themselves for the better, however, the women in his life would grossly disagree. He jumps head-first into his mid-life crisis and enjoys every unemployed minute. With a little help from the neighbor boy, his life becomes a complete ride of self gratification. He becomes the man of the house again and this time, he's going to stay on top. He doesn't even care that his wife and daughter find solace in the arms of other men.