American Beauty tells the story of the empty lives of suburbanites. A subject I personally don't often find all that engaging as there often seems to be an inherent smugness from the creators of the material, as though this people are lower than them. American Beauty has that smugness in spade presenting with open disdain just about everyone. This is from the horny suburban dad, the homophobic closet homosexual (as we all know only homosexual hate homosexuals, please note sarcasm), the vapid homosexuals neighbors, the vapid suburban mom, the vapid suburban cheerleader, the vapid boss, then we get the true ones the moody daughter and the artistic son whose "poetic" lines are so ridiculous they are unintentionally hilarious. Much of this is Alan Ball's thin excessively on the nose screenplay. Sam Mendes's direction does not help as he attempts to manage the tone of the film in such a clumsy fashion. Mendes often allows it to fall into over the top comedy, unintentional or not, which never melds with his attempts to achieve some sort of higher understanding of what is presented in front of us. The problem is there is little to understand in Ball's screenplay, and all Mendes does is make it even harder to digest.