American Beauty - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

American Beauty Reviews

February 22, 2015
American Beauty is deeply disturbing, acerbically funny, brilliantly acted, breathtakingly original and highly sophisticated.
February 22, 2015
This is Spacey's best performance since he took home an Oscar for The Usual Suspects.
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.
May 8, 2014
Kevin Spacey gives the performance of his life.
January 28, 2014
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 | Original Score: 4/4
January 28, 2014
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.
January 28, 2014
[The filmmakers'] attacks on real-estate agents, corporate America and suburbia aren't so much shooting fish in a barrel as they are shooting fish in a shallow dish.
January 28, 2014
Boldly challenging our sympathies, [Lester] somehow wins them because, to borrow a phrase, he's a man in full.
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.
January 28, 2014
Mendes and screenwriter Alan Ball, both making their feature debuts, resort to a few heavy-handed tactics to get their points across, but their sheer audacity is so exhilarating it hardly matters.
February 24, 2013
This amazing and impassioned fantasia about American loneliness begins as satire and ends with a vision of the sublime.
April 27, 2007
As the latest mainstream movie symptom of our premillennial malaise, American Beauty is so brilliantly acted, written, directed and visualized that for all its despondency and despair, it is a lot of fun.
February 9, 2006
Director Mendes guides an artful path between desire and self-disgust, playing youth against experience, male against female.
October 3, 2002
An astonishingly assured first feature from transatlantic theater whiz kid Sam Mendes.
June 18, 2002
A great, tremendously entertaining experience. I only wish there were more films this satisfying.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
March 19, 2002
This is definitely a knife-to-the-heart movie -- the kind whose potent effect is easy to feel yet hard to describe.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
May 22, 2001
The kind of artful defiance that Hollywood is usually too timid to deliver: a jolting comedy that makes you laugh till it hurts.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
January 1, 2000
Mendes can stake a claim alongside the likes of Kubrick and Egoyan as one whose cinematic vision both challenges and entertains.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
January 1, 2000
At this point in the year, I'd readily call American Beauty one of the best movies of 1999. It is certainly the best-acted, with Kevin Spacey a standout among a stellar ensemble cast.
January 1, 2000
American Beauty offers one of the best ensemble casts you'll see in any American movie this year.
January 1, 2000
Because the film's visual conception and most of its performances have such disturbing power, in dreamlike fragments American Beauty is able to burrow inside the cliche to understand how it came to be.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
January 1, 2000
One of the edgiest movies of the year.
January 1, 2000
American Beauty is a comedy because we laugh at the absurdity of the hero's problems. And a tragedy because we can identify with his failure.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
January 1, 2000
American Beauty brings a bracing blend of cunning, insight and compassion to the drama of a suburban family coming apart.
Read More | Original Score: 4/4
January 1, 2000
The real star of the film is Alan Ball's exceptional script, which continually reveals new, surprising layers in characters that initially seem like cartoonish types.
January 1, 2000
If it is never really as profound as it seems to think it is, American Beauty is consistently entertaining.
January 1, 2000
Hilarious, painful and brutally frank.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
January 1, 2000
American Beauty is a flat-out masterpiece, surely the best movie of the year; indeed, an all-time classic.
Read More | Original Score: 4/4
January 1, 2000
A millennial classic.
January 1, 2000
Startling, brilliantly assembled.
January 1, 2000
American Beauty is a very funny film that packs an unexpected emotional wallop.
January 1, 2000
I can't remember the last time I've seen a mainstream, big-studio release this well-acted.
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.
January 1, 2000
American Beauty takes its place among the best family dramas of recent decades.
January 1, 2000
As it detects increasingly vital signs of life behind the absurd surfaces that Mr. Mendes presents so beautifully, the film takes on a gravity to match its evil zest.
January 1, 2000
Funny and highly entertaining.
January 1, 2000
An acerbic, darkly comic critique of how social conventions can lead people into false, sterile and emotionally stunted lives, American Beauty is a real American original.
January 1, 2000
[Beauty] is certainly adept at showing how awful life in the United States is at the moment -- and that's what gives it some bite. But it's no less adept at taking that awfulness and making it pleasurable to watch -- and that's what makes it entertaining.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
January 1, 2000
There's too much dead air around the dialogue and the comic pacing is nonexistent.
January 1, 2000
Hilarious, slightly sick, and super-edgy.
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.
January 1, 2000
Beauty is a blood-chilling dark comedy with unexpected moments of both fury and warmth, a strange, brooding and very accomplished film that sets us back on our heels from its opening frames.
January 1, 2000
American Beauty is a singular accomplishment so specifically keyed to Spacey's talents that it mandates going out on a limb to say it contains the performance that will ultimately be regarded as 'the one'.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
January 1, 2000
You know you're in the hands of a true filmmaker when you feel invited, at every turn, to share his sense of entrancement. I got that feeling in just about every frame of American Beauty.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
January 1, 2000
It's a picture with a great cool shiny surface, and it boasts superb actors, witty and iconoclastic writing, vigorous and imaginative direction and brilliantly stylized cinematography.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4