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American Beauty (1999)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  1 October 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 751,598 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 2,690 user | 268 critic | 33 from

A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.



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Top 250 Movies #62 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 101 wins & 96 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sale House Woman #1
Sale House Man #1
Fort Atkinson ...
Sale House Man #2
Sue Casey ...
Sale House Woman #2


Lester and Carolyn Burnham are, on the outside, a perfect husband and wife in a perfect house in a perfect neighborhood. But inside, Lester is slipping deeper and deeper into a hopeless depression. He finally snaps when he becomes infatuated with one of his daughter's friends. Meanwhile, his daughter Jane is developing a happy friendship with a shy boy-next-door named Ricky, who lives with an abusive father. Written by Jessie Skinner <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


... look closer


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

1 October 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Belleza americana  »

Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$861,531 (USA) (17 September 1999)


AUD 11,029,726 (Australia) (15 December 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Since Thora Birch was barely 17 at the time she made the film, and thus classified as a minor in the United States, her parents had to approve her brief topless scene in the movie and they and child labor representatives were on the set for the shooting of it. See more »


When Angela and Jane are outside the school talking to Ricky, there is a shot in which the filter of Angela's cigarette is visible, and it's clearly white. As the cigarette is half-smoked, it should be brown from the tar. However, this could be deliberate as it could be that Angela and Jane are not really smoking and just trying to look cool. See more »


[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 »


Referenced in Nowhere Fast (2006) See more »


All Along The Watchtower
Written and Performed by Bob Dylan
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

One of my faves of the year...simply great.
5 November 1999 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

This movie was a joy to watch. I didn't know what to expect when I came into it. I had heard the buzz of the acting and the story, etc...but we've all heard that before and had been disappointed, but not so with this one.

Kevin Spacey plays this part to a "T". He is strong when it requires and meek when it is needed. His emotional rollercoaster ride is a trip to partake in. Annette Bening is marvelous as well. I think they both should be nominated.

The support cast is also spectacular. Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, and Mena Suvari all give great performances as the troubled "Teenagers" in the film. Of particular mention is Wes Bentley's performance, worthy of a supporting nomination as well.

This is a dramatic and funny tale of a man and his life in a state of turmoil and transition. When he happens to see a beautiful friend of his daughter's at a cheerleading exhibition, he is completely infatuated with her beauty. Using this as his inspiration, he attempts to change all aspects of his life. He confronts his marriage, his job, his ego, and his libido.

The music in this film is also very well chosen. There are moments when the music fits so perfectly with the scene that they meld together as one to present a perfect emotion.

The plot can get rather involved, but you will follow it endlessly to see where you go. I was simply involved, hook, line and sinker.

See this movie more than once, and skip some of the other movies out now that are dare I say, trash.

This should be on the top of many critic's lists this year and it is certainly on top of mine.

My Rating (1 - 10): 10

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Thora's topless scene tvops-78630
I changed my mind about this movie. I actually like it. christopher-townsend44
Films like this? blytheoakman
Why Colonel Fitts kissed Lester? chris610
Tough for Non-Americans to relate to? LorcaGonzalez
Great film but completely sexist. Here's why. MelancholyPonyAndTheCircusBoy
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