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Life as a House (2001)

R  |   |  Drama  |  9 November 2001 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 37,995 users   Metascore: 45/100
Reviews: 356 user | 99 critic | 32 from

When a man is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he takes custody of his misanthropic teenage son, for whom quality time means getting high, engaging in small-time prostitution, and avoiding his father.



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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Kimball
Officer Kurt Walker
Sandra Nelson ...
Nurse #1
David Dokos
Bryan Burke
Bob Larson
Barry Primus ...


George Monroe is a lonely and sad man. Divorced for ten years, he lives alone on the Southern California coast with his pet dog in the same run down shack he has lived in for twenty-five years, the shack which his father passed down to him. In the intervening years, ostentatious houses have sprung up around him. He's been at the same architectural firm for twenty years in a job he hates, which primarily consists of building scale models. On the day that he is fired from his job, he is diagnosed with an advanced case of terminal cancer, which he chooses not to disclose to his family. In many ways, this day is the happiest of his recent life in that he decides to spend what little time he has left doing what he really wants to do, namely build a house he can call his own to replace the shack. He also wants his rebellious sixteen year old son, Sam Monroe, to live with him for the summer, hopefully not only to help in the house construction, but for the two to reconnect as a family. ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Seen from a distance, it's perfect.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, sexuality and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

9 November 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Haus am Meer  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$294,056 (USA) (26 October 2001)


$15,561,627 (USA) (21 December 2001)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The video of George and young Sam playing in the surf was shot by Kevin Kline's wife, Phoebe Cates. She videotaped Kevin and their son Owen on the beach in Bermuda. See more »


When George is talking to Robin after she has brought him and Sam pizza, the pizza boxes change position on the table numerous times. See more »


Sam: I think there has to be a door between where you cook and where you crap. Even in the bush - tribal people, you know, they have a place for both. Probably it's like a law. God! It's probably in the Bible. It's at least a building code violation.
See more »


Edited into The Making of 'Life as a House' (2001) See more »


Written by Kevin Ogilvie and Mark Walk
Performed by Ohgr
Courtesy of Spitfire Records/Eagle Rock Entertainment PLC
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Liked it in spite of myself
4 October 2003 | by (Western Hemisphere) – See all my reviews

I don't usually go for family melodrama movies, but this one had superior acting and so many small unexpected touches that I found myself genuinely caring about movie characters...which is very rare for me. The scene with George and Robin dancing with Sam looking on is heartbreaking, given what we know will ultimately happen.

Kevin Kline is like the rock of Gibraltar, Kristen Scott Thomas is not capable of a wrong move, and Hayden Christensen is outstanding. A word of warning: be on your guard for the father and son surf scene. It appears about three times in the movie, with additional emotional significance each time.

Rating: 8 on 10.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
this sounds very jerky but is my one criticism of this great movie ms-catamaran
Jacking off in an armoire tiffy_lee
The whole shower scene? brialashee
Emo confusion foure
scene that moved me the most Angel_Of_My_Heart
What's wrong with Sam? rayment8771
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