American Beauty Reviews

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Top Critic
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
May 8, 2014
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.
Tim Brayton
Antagony & Ecstasy
March 23, 2011
Cripplingly broad, with network-sitcom beats dressed in R-rated threads... [endorses] a particularly adolescent male point of view.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/10
Jeffrey Westhoff
Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)
June 21, 2002
Mendes has assembled "American Beauty" from other groundbreaking films. His ambition lies in the way he presents "American Beauty" as a modern version of the major films he copies.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Betty Jo Tucker
ReelTalk Movie Reviews
August 2, 2002
Shrouded in ugliness despite brilliant performances by Bening and Spacey.
Top Critic
J. Hoberman
Village Voice
January 1, 2000
There's too much dead air around the dialogue and the comic pacing is nonexistent.
Wesley Morris
San Francisco Examiner
January 1, 2000
The film struggles with its mood swings and is marred by its own tonal and thematic inconsistencies.
Jeffrey Overstreet
Looking Closer
December 6, 2004
A stylish film about an American family that pretends to be moral and enlightened, but revels in its mean-spirited sarcasm and its championing of self-interest.
Full Review | Original Score: C-
Chuck Rudolph
Matinee Magazine
March 19, 2001
It wants to be an original beauty so much that it doesn't realize just how plain and ordinary it really is.
Full Review | Original Score: C
Ed Gonzalez
Slant Magazine
June 5, 2008
It's daring in that it sympathizes with a protagonist who's a pederast though its portrait of an American family on the brink of collapse is essentially a cartoon
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Jason Clark
Matinee Magazine
July 2, 2002
When all is said and done, doesn't really offer anything new.
Steven D. Greydanus
Decent Films Guide
May 7, 2002
There is beauty to which this movie is stone cold blind: beauty it tramples on as ignorantly as Buddy Kane or Col. Fitts.
Full Review | Original Score: F
Kamal 'The Diva' Larsuel
3BlackChicks Review
January 1, 2000
If you enjoy "films" then rush right out. Otherwise put it on your "must rent" list.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Stanley Kauffmann
The New Republic
January 1, 2000
It never justifies the blatancy of its opening, and it never does anything to freshen what is only one more journey through familiar fortyish unfulfillment.
Top Critic
Peter Rainer
New York Magazine/Vulture
January 1, 2000
Moviemakers who feel betrayed by the cheery sitcoms of their adolescence can now take it out on all the rest of us and, as a bonus, get points for profundity too.
Robert Payne
Reel.com
January 1, 2000
Though the film is outrageously entertaining, its relentless struggle to find social relevance becomes so heavy-handed that it leaves you feeling sucker-punched.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
January 1, 2000
Director Sam Mendes presents some memorable images, and moments of Kubrick class clarity, but the whole does not hang together.
Bob Thompson
Jam! Movies
October 3, 2002
Moves from mirthful to moody and to downright overwrought near the climax.
| Original Score: 3/5
Stuart Klawans
The Nation
March 3, 2005
Complexity, say quite a few of my colleagues. Lies, I say.
Walter Chaw
Film Freak Central
May 23, 2007
It's like Norman Bates getting good advice from Mother.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
January 28, 2014
The hairpin turns from farce to melodrama, from satire to bathos, are fresh and deftly navigated, but almost every one of the underlying attitudes is smug and easy.
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