"Seen from a distance, it's perfect."

George Monroe (Kline) is a middle-aged man who puts together model buildings for a living. He hates his job, and resists his company's push into the future. He lives in a shack in the middle of a beautiful middle-class suburb right on the So-Cal coast and greets his neighbors every morning by pissing toward the ocean. His ex-wife has remarried a stoic sort of man and has all but perfected her home life, with the exception of her oldest boy (George's son) who *gasp* wears makeup, black clothing, hates his life and gets high on a regular basis. What can we do to right these people in 122 minutes? How can we make them whole again--they're obviously so empty inside!

We build a house. Well, actually, we rebuild that shack in which George has been living over one perfect summer. Exploiting several stereotypes, the film combines an underdog father, a promiscuous single mother, a Goth teen druggie and an evil, corrupt businessman. Everyone plays their part to perfection and, as the underdog (did I mention he has a terminal illness?) brings them all together, lives are changed, relationships blossom, and wounds from the past are finally healed. Kumbaya.

No, no. I don't mean to be so cynical. In fact, I enjoyed watching the movie--I even cried at the end! But several people told me this would be one of the best movies I'd ever seen. So it wasn't. Several people told me it would be American Beauty. It isn't. And while the film does address the painful relationships parents and children can sometimes have, while it definitely gets you to laugh and to cry, it isn't extraordinary. All of the elements of this movie are textbook, complete with the full circle ending. With a star-filled cast, beautiful California setting, and heart- wrenching ending, the movie should be perfect. Considering the tagline, I'd say it's better that it isn't.

The film is directed by Irwin Winkler, is obviously considered a drama, and is rated R. The cast includes, but is not limited to:

Scott Bakula
Hayden Christensen
Kevin Kline
Jena Malone
Kristin Scott Thomas
Mary Steenburgen
Mike Weinberg

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