American Beauty (1999)
Lester Burnham: [narrating] I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn't a second at all, it stretches on forever, like an ocean of time... For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars... And yellow leaves, from the maple trees, that lined our street... Or my grandmother's hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper... And the first time I saw my cousin Tony's brand new Firebird... And Janie... And Janie... And... Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry... you will someday.
[at the dinner table]
Carolyn Burnham: Your father and I were just discussing his day at work. Why don't you tell our daughter about it, honey?
Lester Burnham: Janie, today I quit my job. And then I told my boss to go fuck himself, and then I blackmailed him for almost sixty thousand dollars. Pass the asparagus.
Carolyn Burnham: Your father seems to think this kind of behavior is something to be proud of.
Lester Burnham: And your mother seems to prefer that I go through life like a fucking prisoner while she keeps my dick in a mason jar under the sink.
Carolyn Burnham: How dare you speak to me that way in front of her. And I marvel that you can be so contemptuous of me, on the same day that you LOSE your job.
Lester Burnham: Lose it? I didn't lose it. It's not like, "Whoops! Where'd my job go?" I QUIT. Someone pass the asparagus, please.
[Lester has just caught Caroline cheating with the Real Estate King]
Carolyn Burnham: Uh, Buddy, this is my...
Lester Burnham: Her husband. We've met before, but something tells me you're going to remember me this time.
Lester Burnham: Remember those posters that said, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life"? Well, that's true of every day but one - the day you die.
Ricky Fitts: It was one of those days when it's a minute away from snowing and there's this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. Right? And this bag was just dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. That's the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video's a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember... I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can't take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.
Catering Boss: I'm not paying you to do... whatever it is you're doing out here.
Ricky Fitts: Fine. So don't pay me.
Catering Boss: Excuse me?
Ricky Fitts: I quit. So you don't have to pay me. Now leave me alone.
Catering Boss: ...asshole.
Lester Burnham: [stunned] I think you just became my personal hero!
Lester Burnham: My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighborhood; this is my street; this is my life. I am 42 years old; in less than a year I will be dead. Of course I don't know that yet, and in a way, I am dead already.
Carolyn Burnham: Uh, whose car is that out front?
Lester Burnham: Mine. 1970 Pontiac Firebird. The car I've always wanted and now I have it. I rule!
Lester Burnham: [narrating] It's a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself.
Carolyn Burnham: What are you doing?
Lester Burnham: Nothing.
Carolyn Burnham: You were masturbating!
Lester Burnham: I was not.
Carolyn Burnham: Yes you were!
Lester Burnham: Oh, all right! So shoot me, I was whacking off! That's right, I was choking the bishop, chafing the carrot, you know, saying "hi" to my monster!
Lester Burnham: How's Jane?
Angela Hayes: What do you mean?
Lester Burnham: I mean, how's her life? Is she happy? Is she miserable? I'd really like to know, and she'd die before she'd ever tell me about it.
Angela Hayes: She's... she's really happy. She thinks she's in love.
Lester Burnham: Good for her.
Angela Hayes: How are you?
Lester Burnham: God, it's been a long time since anybody asked me that... I'm great.
Angela Hayes: I've gotta go to the bathroom.
Lester Burnham: I'm great.
Angela Hayes: Yeah? Well, at least I'm not ugly!
Ricky Fitts: Yes, you are. And you're boring, and you're totally ordinary, and you know it.
Lester Burnham: It's a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself. Makes you wonder what else you can do that you've forgotten about.
Brad Dupree: Got a minute?
Lester Burnham: [Phony, overly polite voice] For you, Brad, I've got five!
Ricky Fitts: It's like God's looking right at you, just for a second, and if you're careful... you can look right back.
Jane Burnham: And what do you see?
Ricky Fitts: Beauty.
Buddy Kane: In order to be successful, one must project an image of success at all times.
Colonel Frank Fitts: Where did you get that?
Ricky Fitts: From my job.
Colonel Frank Fitts: Don't lie to me. Now, I saw you with him.
Ricky Fitts: You were watching me?
Colonel Frank Fitts: What did he make you do?
Ricky Fitts: Oh, Dad, you don't really think that me and Mr. Burnham were...
Colonel Frank Fitts: Don't you laugh at me. Now, I will not sit back and watch my only son become a cock-sucker!
Ricky Fitts: Jesus, what is it with you?
Colonel Frank Fitts: I swear to God, I will throw you out of the house and never look at you again!
Ricky Fitts: You mean that?
Colonel Frank Fitts: You're damn straight I do. I'd rather you were dead than be a fuckin' faggot.
Ricky Fitts: You're right. I suck dick for money.
Colonel Frank Fitts: Boy, don't start.
Ricky Fitts: Two thousand dollars - I'm that good.
Colonel Frank Fitts: Get out!
Ricky Fitts: And you should see me fuck. I'm the best piece of ass in three States.
Colonel Frank Fitts: Get out. I don't ever want to see you again!
Ricky Fitts: What a sad old man you are.
Lester Burnham: Look at me, jerking off in the shower... This will be the high point of my day; it's all downhill from here.
Carolyn Burnham: Are you trying to look unattractive?
Jane Burnham: Yes.
Carolyn Burnham: Well, congratulations. You've succeeded admirably.
Mr. Smiley's Counter Girl: Whoa! You are so busted.
Carolyn Burnham: You know, this really doesn't concern you.
Lester Burnham: Well, actually, Janine is Senior Drive-thru Manager so you are on her turf.
Brad Dupree: Management wants you gone by the end of the day.
Lester Burnham: Well, just what sort of severance package is management prepared to offer me? Considering the information I have about our Editorial Director buying pussy with company money - which, I think, would interest the I.R.S., since it technically constitutes fraud; and I'm sure that some of our advertisers and rival publications might like to know about it as well. Not to mention
Lester Burnham: Craig's wife!
Brad Dupree: [crosses his arms] What do you want?
Lester Burnham: One year's salary, with benefits.
Brad Dupree: That's not going to happen.
Lester Burnham: Well, what do you say I throw in a little sexual harassment charge, to boot?
Brad Dupree: [chuckles in disbelief] Against who?
Lester Burnham: [he chuckles right back] Against YOU. Can you prove that you didn't offer to save my job if I let you blow me?
Brad Dupree: Man, you are one twisted fuck.
Lester Burnham: Nope; I'm just an ordinary guy with nothing to lose.
Lester Burnham: I figured you guys might be able to give me some pointers. I need to shape up. Fast.
Jim Olmeyer: Are you just looking to lose weight, or do you want increased strength and flexibility as well?
Lester Burnham: I want to look good naked!
Brad Dupree: [reading Lester's job description] "My job consists of basically masking my contempt for the assholes in charge, and, at least once a day, retiring to the men's room so I can jerk off while I fantasize about a life that doesn't so closely resemble Hell." Well, you have absolutely no interest in saving yourself.
Lester Burnham: Brad, for 14 years I've been a whore for the advertising industry. The only way I could save myself now is if I start firebombing.
Lester Burnham: [narrating] Both my wife and daughter think I'm this gigantic loser and they're right, I have lost something. I'm not exactly sure what it is but I know I didn't always feel this... sedated. But you know what? It's never too late to get it back.
Lester Burnham: Good. I'm looking for the least possible amount of responsibility.
Angela Hayes: I don't think that there's anything worse than being ordinary.
Lester Burnham: When I was your age, I flipped burgers all summer just to be able to buy an eight-track.
Ricky Fitts: That sucks.
Lester Burnham: No, actually it was great. All I did was party and get laid. I had my whole life ahead of me.
Lester Burnham: This isn't life, it's just stuff. And it's become more important to you than living. Well, honey, that's just nuts.
Carolyn Burnham: Oh, I see. You think you're the only one who's sexually frustrated here?
Lester Burnham: I'm not? Well, then, come on, baby, I'm ready!
Carolyn Burnham: Don't you mess with me, mister, or I'll divorce you so fast it'll make your head spin!
Lester Burnham: On what grounds? I'm not a drunk, I don't fuck other women, I've never hit you, I don't mistreat you... I don't even try to touch you since you've made it so abundantly clear how unnecessary you consider me to be! But I did support you when you got your license, and some people might think that entitles me to half of what's yours. So, turn off the light when you come to bed!
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?
Lester Burnham: You don't think it's kinda weird & fascist?
Carolyn Burnham: Possibly, but you don't want to be unemployed.
Lester Burnham: Oh well, all right, let's all sell our souls and work for Satan because it's more convenient that way.
Angela Hayes: Jane, he's a freak!
Jane Burnham: Then so am I! And we'll always be freaks and we'll never be like other people and you'll never be a freak because you're just too... perfect!
Lester Burnham: [narrating] That's my wife, Carolyn. See the way the handle on her pruning shears matches her gardening clogs? That's not an accident.
Lester Burnham: I am sick and tired of being treated like I don't exist. You two do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it, and I don't complain.
Carolyn Burnham: Oh, you don't complain? Then please, excuse me, I must be psychotic, then! If you don't complain, what is this? Yeah, let's bring in the laugh-meter and see how loud it gets.
Lester Burnham: [Lester throws the asparagus plate at the wall] Don't interrupt me, honey!
Lester Burnham: [sits back down to eat] Oh, yeah, and one more thing, from now on we're going to have alternate dinner music because frankly - and I don't think I'm alone here...
[looks in Jane's direction]
Lester Burnham: I'm tired of this Lawrence Welk shit!
Ricky Fitts: She's not your friend. She's just someone you use to feel better about yourself.
Lester Burnham: You don't get to tell me what to do ever again.
Carolyn Burnham: Well, I see you're smoking pot now. I think using psychotropic drugs is a very positive example to set for our daughter.
Lester Burnham: You're one to talk, you bloodless, money-grubbing freak.
Colonel Frank Fitts: Where's your wife?
Lester Burnham: Uh, I dunno. Probably out fucking that dorky, prince-of-real-estate asshole. And you know what? I don't care.
Colonel Frank Fitts: Your wife is with another man and you don't care?
Lester Burnham: Nope. Our marriage is just for show. A commercial for how normal we are when we're anything but.
Lester Burnham: You better watch yourself, Jane, or you're going to turn into a real BITCH, just like your MOTHER!
[Lester and Carolyn are driving to the basketball game to watch Jane's dance team gig]
Lester Burnham: Well what makes you so sure she wants us to be there? Did she ask us to come?
Carolyn Burnham: Of course not. She doesn't want us to know how important this is to her. But she's been practicing her steps for weeks.
Lester Burnham: Well, I'll bet money she's going to resent it, and I'm missing the James Bond marathon on TNT.
Carolyn Burnham: Lester, this is important. I'm sensing a real distance growing between you and Jane.
Lester Burnham: "Growing?" She hates me.
Carolyn Burnham: She's just willful.
Lester Burnham: She hates you too.
Ricky Fitts: I can't believe you don't know how beautiful you are.
Carolyn Burnham: Honey, I'm so proud of you. I watched you very closely, and you didn't screw up once!
Jane Burnham: Are you scared?
Ricky Fitts: I don't get scared.
Jane Burnham: My parents will try to find me.
Ricky Fitts: Mine won't.
Jane Burnham: [turning the camera on Ricky] Don't you feel naked?
Ricky Fitts: [looking down, grinning] I am naked.
Angela Hayes: I'm serious. He just pulled down his pants and yanked it out. You know, like, "Say hello to Mr. Happy."
Playground Girl #1: Gross.
Angela Hayes: It wasn't gross. It was kinda cool.
Playground Girl #1: So did you do it with him?
Angela Hayes: Of course I did. He's like a really well known photographer. He shoots for "Elle" on like a regular basis. It would have been so majorly stupid of me to turn him down.
Playground Girl #2: You are a total prostitute.
Angela Hayes: Hey! That's how things really are. You just don't know 'cause you're this pampered little suburban chick.
Playground Girl #2: So are you. You've only been in "Seventeen" once and you looked fat! So stop acting like you're goddamn Christy Turlington!
Angela Hayes: Cunt! I am so sick of people taking their insecurities out on me.
[Carolyn is introducing Lester to the Real Estate King]
Carolyn Burnham: My husband, Lester.
Buddy Kane: It's a pleasure.
Lester Burnham: Oh, we've met before, actually. This thing last year, Christmas at the Sheraton...
Buddy Kane: [pretends to remember] Oh yeah, yes...
Lester Burnham: It's OK, I wouldn't remember me either.
Carolyn Burnham: [laughs nervously] Honey, don't be weird.
Lester Burnham: OK honey, I won't be weird. I'll be whatever what you want me to be.
[Lester kisses Carolyn wildly, then looks at the Real Estate King]
Lester Burnham: We have a very healthy relationship.
Buddy Kane: I see.
Lester Burnham: Well, don't know about you guys, but I need a drink.
Ricky Fitts: My dad thinks I paid for all this with catering jobs. Never underestimate the power of denial.
Jim Olmeyer: Hello! We're your neighbors from two doors down and we just wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood!
[hands the Colonel a gift basket]
Jim "JB" Berkely: Everything's from our garden, except for the pasta.
Jim Olmeyer: Yes, it's from Fizzoli's, it's amazingly fresh, you just pop it in water and it's done! I'm Jim Olmeyer.
[shakes the Colonel's hand]
Jim Olmeyer: And this is my partner Jim.
Jim "JB" Berkely: Jim Berkely, but people call me J.B.
[extends his hand to shake]
Colonel Frank Fitts: Ah, let's just cut to it, what are you selling?
Jim Olmeyer: Nothing, we just wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood.
Colonel Frank Fitts: You said you're partners, so, uh what's your business?
Jim Olmeyer: Well, he's a tax attorney.
Jim "JB" Berkely: And he's an anesthesiologist.
Ricky Fitts: [after Ricky's dad beats him up] Mom, I'm leaving.
Barbara Fitts: Okay. Wear a raincoat.
Lester Burnham: [narrating] Janie's a pretty typical teenager. Angry, insecure, confused. I wish I could tell her that's all going to pass, but I don't want to lie to her.
Ricky Fitts: Welcome to America's weirdest home videos.
Jane Burnham: I don't think we can be friends anymore.
Angela Hayes: You're way too uptight about sex.
Jane Burnham: Just don't fuck my dad, all right? Please?
Angela Hayes: Why not?
Angela Hayes: You total slut, you have a crush on him. You're defending him, you love him, you wanna have, like, ten thousand of his babies.
Mr. Smiley's Manager: I don't think you'd fit in here.
Lester Burnham: I have fast food experience.
Mr. Smiley's Manager: Yeah, like twenty years ago!
Lester Burnham: Well, I'm sure there have been amazing technological advances in the industry, but surely you must have some sort of training program. It seems unfair to presume I won't be able to learn.
Lester Burnham: This isn't life! This is just stuff! And it's become more important to you than living!
Angela Hayes: Everything that's meant to happen does.
Carolyn Burnham: This is a $4,000 sofa, upholstered in Italian silk. This is not just a couch.
Lester Burnham: [shouts, pounding a couch pillow to each syllable] It's just a couch!
[Lester eavesdrops on Jane and Angela through Jane's bedroom door]
Jane Burnham: Sorry about my dad.
Angela Hayes: Don't be. I think it's funny.
Jane Burnham: Yeah, to you, he's just another guy who wants to jump your bones. But to me, he's just... too embarrassing to live.
Angela Hayes: Your mom's the one who's embarrassing. What a phony. But, your dad's actually kind of cute.
Jane Burnham: Shut up.
Angela Hayes: He is. If he just worked out a little, he'd be hot.
Jane Burnham: Shut up!
Angela Hayes: Oh, come on. Like you've never sneaked a peek at him in his underwear? I bet he's got a big dick.
Jane Burnham: You are so grossing me out right now.
Angela Hayes: If he built up his chest and arms, I would totally fuck him.
Jane Burnham: [covers her ears and sings 'la la la' over and over again]
Angela Hayes: I would! I would suck your dad's big fat dick, and then I'd fuck him until his eyes rolled back in his head!
Lester Burnham: So, Janie, how was school?
Jane Burnham: It was okay.
Lester Burnham: Just okay?
Jane Burnham: No, Dad, it was spectacular.
Angela Hayes: So, you're fucking psycho-boy on a regular basis now? Tell me, has he got a big dick?
Jane Burnham: It's not like that.
Angela Hayes: What, hasn't he got one?
Jane Burnham: I'm not going to talk about his dick with you, OK?
Lester Burnham: [talking to Carolyn about Jane] Oh, what? You're mother of the year? You treat her like an employee.
Brad Dupree: ...so I'm sure you can understand the need to cut corners around here.
Lester Burnham: Sure. Times are tight, and you need to free up cash. Gotta spend money to make money.
Brad Dupree: Exactly.
Lester Burnham: Like when our editorial director used the company MasterCard to pay for a hooker, and then she used the card number to stay at the St. Regis for, what was it, three months?
Brad Dupree: That's unsubstantiated gossip.
Lester Burnham: That's fifty thousand dollars. That's somebody's salary. Somebody who's probably gonna get fired because Craig has to pay women to fuck him!
Brad Dupree: Jesus. Calm down. Nobody's getting fired yet. That's why we're having everyone write a job description, mapping out in detail how they contribute. That way, management can assess who's valuable and who's...
Lester Burnham: Expendable.
Brad Dupree: It's just business.
Carolyn Burnham: Lester I refuse to live like this! This is not a marriage!
Lester Burnham: This hasn't been a marriage, for years, but you were happy as long as I kept my mouth shut. Well guess what, I've changed! And the new me whacks off when he feels horny, because you're obviously not gonna help me out in that department!
Lester Burnham: I feel like I've been in a coma for the past twenty years. And I'm just now waking up.
[after meeting Ricky Fitts for the first time]
Angela Hayes: What a freak! And why does he dress like a bible salesman?
Jane Burnham: He's just so confident, it can't be real.
Angela Hayes: I don't believe him. I mean, he didn't even like, look at me once!
Jane Burnham: Could he be any more pathetic?
Angela Hayes: I think it's sweet. And I think he and your mother have not had sex in a long time.
Ricky Fitts: I didn't mean to scare you. I just think you're interesting.
Buddy Kane: [Carolyn is having sex in a motel room with the Real Estate King] Do you like getting nailed by the King?
Carolyn Burnham: Yes, your majesty!
Ricky Fitts: Anything new in the world, Dad?
Colonel Frank Fitts: This country is going straight to hell!
Lester Burnham: Oh Carolyn, when did you become so... joyless?
Carolyn Burnham: Joyless? I'm not joyless. There happens to be a lot about me that you don't know, Mr. Smarty Man. There's plenty of joy in my life.
Lester Burnham: Will someone please pass the fucking asparagus?
Carolyn Burnham: You ungrateful little brat! Just look at everything you have. When I was your age, we... lived in a duplex! We didn't even have our own house!
Angela Hayes: It's that psycho next door. Jane, what if he worships you? What if he's got a shrine with pictures of you surrounded by dead people's heads and stuff?
Lester Burnham: Well you know what? I've changed! And the new me whacks off when he feels horny!
Angela Hayes: If people I don't even know look at me and want to fuck me, it means I really have a shot at being a model.
Lester Burnham: Man, oh man. Man, oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man.
[last words, while looking at a picture of his family]
Jane Burnham: [seeing Lester having just been shot] Oh, my God...
Ricky Fitts: [looks at Lester, curiously intrigued] Wow...
Carolyn Burnham: That was exactly what I needed. The royal treatment, so to speak.
Angela Hayes: Who are you looking for?
Jane Burnham: My parents are coming tonight. They're trying to, you know, take an active interest in me.
Angela Hayes: Gross. I hate it when my mom does that.
Jane Burnham: Mom, do we always have to listen to this elevator music?
Carolyn Burnham: No. No, we don't.
Carolyn Burnham: As soon as you've prepared a nutritious yet savory meal that I'm about to eat, you can listen to whatever you like.
Carolyn Burnham: What the hell do you think you're doing?
Lester Burnham: Uh oh! Mom's mad! Bench presses. I'm going to whale on my pecs and then do my back.
Jane Burnham: Somebody should just put him out of his misery.
Ricky Fitts: Do you want me to kill him?
Jane Burnham: Yeah, would you?
Jane Burnham: I know you think my dad's harmless, but you're wrong.
Carolyn Burnham: My company sells an image. It's part of my job to live that image.
Carolyn Burnham: I will sell this house today, I will sell this house today.
Barbara Fitts: I'm so sorry for the way things look around here.
Ricky Fitts: Excuse me for speaking so bluntly sir. But those fags make me want to puke my fucking guts out.
Colonel Frank Fitts: [cautiously, after a long pause] Well, me too son. Me too.
Colonel Frank Fitts: You need structure. Yeah? You need discipline.
Ricky Fitts: Yes, sir. Thank you for trying to teach me. Don't give up on me, Dad.
[Seeing Lester and the two Jim's jogging]
Colonel Frank Fitts: What is this? The fucking Gay Pride parade?
Angela Hayes: I was hoping you'd give me a bath. I'm very, very dirty.
Sale House Woman #5: I mean, I think 'lagoon', I think 'waterfall', I think 'tropical'. This is a cement... hole.
Carolyn Burnham: Er... I have some tiki torches in the garage...
Sale House Woman #4: The ad said this pool was lagoon-like. There's nothing lagoon-like about it, except for the bugs. There aren't even any plants out here!
Carolyn Burnham: What do you call this? Is this not a plant? If you have a problem with my plants, I can always call my landscape architect! Solved!
Carolyn Burnham: There happens to be a lot about me that you don't know, Mr. Smarty Man. There's plenty of joy in my life.