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MOVIES FOR BUSY PEOPLE  
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American Beauty

DOWN & DIRTY:
Black Comedy: A middle-aged man, facing a boring life, sets out to reinvent himself after his daughter's flirtatious teenage friend reignites his passion for living.

NITTY GRITTY:
Lester Burnham (KEVIN SPACEY) is a 42-year-old man undergoing the standard middle-age crisis. His career at a magazine is going nowhere, his perfectionist wife, Carolyn (ANNETTE BENING), drives him crazy and his teenager daughter, Jane (THORA BIRCH) barely talks to him.

Things begin to change with the arrival of several new people who shake things up. The once vacant house next door has now been occupied by the Fitts family. Colonel Frank Fitts (CHRIS COOPER) is a stern, military man whose wife, Barbara (ALLISON JANNEY), seems to be in state of shell shock. Their eighteen-year-old son, Ricky (WES BENTLEY), so obsessed with life and beauty that they once institutionalized him, is a successful drug dealer with a penchant for videotaping everything, including Jane next door.

This initially creeps Jane out, but she soon starts to find Ricky interesting once she gets to know him. This disgusts Jane's cheerleader friend, Angela (MENA SUVARI), who thinks Ricky's a pervert.

When Lester meets both Angela and Ricky, he finds a stirring within himself that he long thought dormant and perhaps dead. After Angela flirts with him, Lester goes into hormonal overdrive and fantasizes about her. Then he starts pumping iron to get into shape and make himself more attractive to her.

With Ricky, Lester finds his carefree attitude about life and work causes Lester to change his outlook on life. Lester sets out to have a good time, not caring that his wife may be having an affair with the local real estate king, Buddy Kane (PETER GALLAGHER).

THE ENDING:
Lester has a chance to make it with Angela when she comes over to see Jane. They are in
the living room and Angela starts to undress. Then she tells Lester that she's never done it
before. Lester looks at her and realizes he can't deflower her.

Ricky's father, already suspicious of his son's involvement with Lester, watches them through an open window. Frank sees what he thinks is his son having oral sex with Lester (based on his point of view through two windows, one that shows Lester lying back and enjoying himself, the adjacent one showing Ricky bent down as if at his crotch -- in reality, he's rolling and licking a joint near Lester).

When confronted, Ricky lies to his father that he IS a homo, just to piss him off. Ricky decides to take Jane and go to New York city.

Colonel Fitts comes over to see Lester. Lester is working out in the garage and Fitts, thinking Lester gay, kisses him. Lester tells him he is not that way. Fitts leaves, but returns and shoots Lester in his kitchen.


WHAT EVERYONE WILL BE TALKING ABOUT:
The performance of newcomer Wes Bentley as Ricky Fitts.


 
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