American Beauty (1999) - Rotten Tomatoes

American Beauty (1999)



Critic Consensus: Flawlessly cast and brimming with dark, acid wit, American Beauty is a smart, provocative high point of late '90s mainstream Hollywood film.

American Beauty Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

A biting, penetrating and often humorous take on contemporary life in suburban America, Lester Burnham becomes intrigued by a young girl named Angela, and this fascination sparks him to make some major changes in his life. He relishes these changes, much to the exasperation of his wife Carolyn.more
Rating: R (for strong sexuality, language, violence and drug content)
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Alan Ball
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 2, 2002
Dream Works - Official Site


Kevin Spacey
as Lester Burnham
Annette Bening
as Carolyn Burnham
Thora Birch
as Jane Burnham
Wes Bentley
as Ricky Fitts
Mena Suvari
as Angela Hayes
Peter Gallagher
as Buddy Kane
Chris Cooper
as Frank Fitts
Allison Janney
as Barbara Fitts
Scott Bakula
as Jim Olymeyer
Sam Robards
as Jim Berkley
Barry Del Sherman
as Brad Dupree
Ara Celi
as Sale House Woman No....
John Cho
as Sale House Man No. 1
Fort Atkinson
as Sale House Man No. 2
Sue Casey
as Sale House Woman No....
Kent Faulcon
as Sale House Man No. 3
Brenda Wehle
as Sale House Woman No....
Lisa Cloud
as Sale House Woman No....
Alison Faulk
as Spartanette No. 1
Krista Goodsitt
as Spartanette No. 2
Lily Houtkin
as Spartanette No. 3
Carolina Lancaster
as Spartanette No. 4
Ramana Leah
as Spartanette No. 5
Chekesa Van Putten
as Spartanette No. 6
Emily Zachary
as Spartanette No. 7
Nancy Anderson
as Spartanette No. 8
Reshma Gajjar
as Spartanette No. 9
Stephanie Rizzo
as Spartanette No. 10
Heather Joy Sher
as Teenage Girl No. 1
Chelsea Hertford
as Teenage Girl No. 2
Amber Smith
as Christy Kane
Joel McCrary
as Catering Boss
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for American Beauty

Critic Reviews for American Beauty

All Critics (180) | Top Critics (45)

American Beauty is deeply disturbing, acerbically funny, brilliantly acted, breathtakingly original and highly sophisticated.

Full Review… | February 22, 2015
Top Critic

This is Spacey's best performance since he took home an Oscar for The Usual Suspects.

Full Review… | February 22, 2015
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Why, then, did I enjoy it so little? Because of its unrelenting self-importance: American Beauty wants us to know, in every shot at every turn, just how clever and mercilessly cutting it is.

Full Review… | May 8, 2014
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

Kevin Spacey gives the performance of his life.

Full Review… | May 8, 2014
New York Observer
Top Critic

Alan Ball's script is a terrific piece of material, and Mendes responds directly to its subversive, provocative vision of a curdled American Dream.

Full Review… | January 28, 2014
Seattle Times
Top Critic

American Beauty approaches a manic, almost cartoonish edge without falling over. Both Spacey and Bening use extraordinary comic timing to bring these very sad, lost characters to life.

Full Review… | January 28, 2014
New York Daily News
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for American Beauty


Exceptionally quirky, entertainingly intelligent and witty and finally and importantly, stirringly poignant.

Adriel Lim
Adriel Lim

Super Reviewer


Lester Burnham is undergoing a serious midlife crisis; pining for his lost youth and obsessing over a teenage cheerleader, he's married to a joyless go-getter who encloses herself in an armour of sarcasm and self-help and has a daughter who he cannot communicate with and clearly hates his guts. Most of the laughs in this film are provided by Lester's social rebellion, but it's communication (or lack thereof) is what this wonderful film is all about. Full of people who feel suffocated by their own apparently meaningless lives, it's a story of ordinary people full of wants and needs but unable to express them because of the overwhelming feeling that they must do what is expected of them; they must at least APPEAR to be "normal". Lester's fantasies about the young girl are just projections of what he feels is missing from his life, just as his wife's desperate need for "success" are. The cast are all perfect, the multi-layered script sparkles with witty dialogue and it's full of memorable moments, culminating in a deeply moving, insightful and thought provoking finale. Genuinely beautiful.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer


Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

American Beauty Quotes

Ricky Fitts: 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.
– Submitted by Andrea M (2 years ago)
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.
– Submitted by Andrea M (2 years ago)
Ricky Fitts: She's not your friend. She's just someone you use to feel better about yourself.
– Submitted by Andrea M (2 years ago)
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.
– Submitted by Andrea M (2 years ago)

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