Stoner Flick: AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999)
A stoner movie of the more contemplative kind. Pot (G-13 specifically) plays an important role in the protagonist’s attempt of emancipation from a unexciting middle class life and a sexless marriage.
(Photo: Say hello to G-13, a primarily indica hybrid bred from Afghani landraces. According to popular myth, the US government was involved in the breading of this strain, known for it’s potency, with a THC-level up to a whooping 20%)
Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) becomes increasingly depressed about his life, and as he finds himself in a genuine midlife crisis, he decides to things around. Motivated by a questionable lust for his teenage daughter’s cheerleader friend, Angela (Mena Suvari), who clumsily flirts with him, Lester quits his shitty white collar job and starts acting out his unfulfilled fantasies of a free life. He does it with the awkwardness of a 50-year at a college party, but nevertheless, you can’t help but sympathize with the man. All stoners will.
Hell… How can you not support a man’s desire for a life free from the nagging of a cynical dick of a boss and a wife who treats him like a means to her own commercial success? Yes, dude – you better quit that wage slaving job, smoke that reefer and get back into shape. What’s wrong with that?
Still, Lester is pathetic and a failure as a father for his daughter, Jane (Thora Birch).
Many other stories weave into this plot: The story of his daughter’s low self esteem and feeling of neglect, and later the story of her infatuation with the new kid on the block, Ricky (Wes Bentley). Then there’s the story of Jake, his troubled past and the strained relationship with his crypto-fascist, homophobic father (Frank [Chris Cooper] a colonel of the US Marine Corps). And the story of Lester’s wife Carolyn (Annette Bening), her struggle to appear strong and succesful and her love affair with the total douchebag, real estate “king” Buddy Kane (Peter Gallagher).
It’s all very interesting and the film spans over several themes, prompting reflection about happiness in life and the appearances people keep up in front of others. Watch it if you haven’t.
Oh, and the soundtrack is outstanding. Director Sam Mendes knows what he is doing.