The first day of The 50 Day Movie Challenge is an easy one. Even if one holds the belief that ranking movies is a pointless endeavor (I don’t), I reckon most every film fan has that one movie they hold in particular regard. The one that will always be their default reply when asked what their favorite movie is.
For me, that film is American Beauty. I wasn’t any major movie fanatic back when I first saw this film. I didn’t really know anything about the movie at the time, but it was one of those rare days that I felt like renting a film and it happened to be this one for some reason (maybe the cover drew me in?).
Now, some movies that you love aren’t immediate infatuations. They take a little while to fully earn your trust. Maybe they’re films that you need a second watch to fully appreciate. Maybe they need to be revisited a couple of times over a longer period to grow on you. American Beauty was no such thing for me. Right as the credits started rolling, I knew I had seen something special. While Lester Burnham’s plight of being trapped in his suburbian life wasn’t something I personally had experienced, Kevin Spacey’s strong performance still made it feel highly relatable. It’s oddly triumphant in how he manages to break free from the drudge of his everyday rut, yet not unconditionally so (since it’s spurred by his squicky attraction to his teen daughter’s slutty friend). It shows the contrasts in everyone’s life between the happy facades we show to others and the darker realities only those close to us know about. And then there’s the fact that it’s just a damn funny comedy any way you look at it.
This clip is one of my favourite scenes of the movie. I’m still hoping that someday in my life I’ll somehow be able to work in a variation of Spacey’s line that he says early in the clip. “It’s [X], the [Y] I’ve always wanted and now I have it. I rule!”