American Beauty (1999) quotes

Director
Sam Mendes.

Cast
Kevin Spacey.
Annette Bening.
Thora Birch.

A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter’s best friend.

[narrating] I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn’t a second at all, it stretches on forever, like an ocean of time… For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars… And yellow leaves, from the maple trees, that lined our street… Or my grandmother’s hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper… And the first time I saw my cousin Tony’s brand new Firebird… And Janie… And Janie… And… Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me… but it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life… You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry… you will someday.
Lester Burnham

Your father and I were just discussing his day at work. Why don’t you tell our daughter about it, honey?
Carolyn Burnham
Janie, today I quit my job. And then I told my boss to go fuck himself, and then I blackmailed him for almost sixty thousand dollars. Pass the asparagus.
Lester Burnham
Your father seems to think this kind of behavior is something to be proud of.
Carolyn Burnham
And your mother seems to prefer that I go through life like a fucking prisoner while she keeps my dick in a mason jar under the sink.
Lester Burnham
How dare you speak to me that way in front of her. And I marvel that you can be so contemptuous of me, on the same day that you LOSE your job.
Carolyn Burnham
Lose it? I didn’t lose it. It’s not like, “Whoops! Where’d my job go?” I QUIT. Someone pass the asparagus, please.
Lester Burnham

 

Uh, Buddy, this is my…
Carolyn Burnham
Her husband. We’ve met before, but something tells me you’re going to remember me this time.
Lester Burnham

Remember those posters that said, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”? Well, that’s true of every day but one – the day you die.
– Lester Burnham

It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing and there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. Right? And this bag was just dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. That’s the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video’s a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember… I need to remember… Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.
– Ricky Fitts

I’m not paying you to do… whatever it is you’re doing out here.
Catering Boss
Fine. So don’t pay me.
Ricky Fitts
Excuse me?
Catering Boss
I quit. So you don’t have to pay me. Now leave me alone.
Ricky Fitts
…asshole.
Catering Boss
[stunned] I think you just became my personal hero!
Lester Burnham

My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighborhood; this is my street; this is my life. I am 42 years old; in less than a year I will be dead. Of course I don’t know that yet, and in a way, I am dead already.
– Lester Burnham

Uh, whose car is that out front?
Carolyn Burnham
Mine. 1970 Pontiac Firebird. The car I’ve always wanted and now I have it. I rule!
Lester Burnham

 

[narrating] It’s a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself.
Lester Burnham

What are you doing?
Carolyn Burnham
Nothing.
Lester Burnham
You were masturbating!
Carolyn Burnham
I was not.
Lester Burnham
Yes you were!
Carolyn Burnham
Oh, all right! So shoot me, I was whacking off! That’s right, I was choking the bishop, chafing the carrot, you know, saying “hi” to my monster!
Lester Burnham

Yeah? Well, at least I’m not ugly!
Angela Hayes
Yes, you are. And you’re boring, and you’re totally ordinary, and you know it.
Ricky Fitts

Got a minute?
Brad Dupree
[Phony, overly polite voice] For you, Brad, I’ve got five!
Lester Burnham

It’s a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself. Makes you wonder what else you can do that you’ve forgotten about.
– Lester Burnham

How’s Jane?
Lester Burnham
What do you mean?
Angela Hayes
I mean, how’s her life? Is she happy? Is she miserable? I’d really like to know, and she’d die before she’d ever tell me about it.
Lester Burnham
She’s… she’s really happy. She thinks she’s in love.
Angela Hayes
Good for her.
Lester Burnham
How are you?
Angela Hayes
God, it’s been a long time since anybody asked me that… I’m great.
Lester Burnham
I’ve gotta go to the bathroom.
Angela Hayes
I’m great.
Lester Burnham

It’s like God’s looking right at you, just for a second, and if you’re careful… you can look right back.
Ricky Fitts
And what do you see?
Jane Burnham
Beauty.
Ricky Fitts

In order to be successful, one must project an image of success at all times.
– Buddy Kane

Look at me, jerking off in the shower… This will be the high point of my day; it’s all downhill from here.
– Lester Burnham

Are you trying to look unattractive?
Carolyn Burnham
Yes.
Jane Burnham
Well, congratulations. You’ve succeeded admirably.
Carolyn Burnham

Whoa! You are so busted.
Mr. Smiley’s Counter Girl
You know, this really doesn’t concern you.
Carolyn Burnham
Well, actually, Janine is Senior Drive-thru Manager so you are on her turf.
Lester Burnham

Good. I’m looking for the least possible amount of responsibility.
– Lester Burnham

I don’t think that there’s anything worse than being ordinary.
– Angela Hayes

This isn’t life, it’s just stuff. And it’s become more important to you than living. Well, honey, that’s just nuts.
– Lester Burnham

Oh, I see. You think you’re the only one who’s sexually frustrated here?
Carolyn Burnham
I’m not? Well, then, come on, baby, I’m ready!
Lester Burnham

Smile! You’re at Mr. Smiley’s.
– Lester Burnham

I need a father who’s a role model, not some horny geek-boy who’s gonna spray his shorts whenever I bring a girlfriend home from school. What a lame-o. Someone really should just put him out of his misery.
Jane Burnham
Want me to kill him for you?
Ricky Fitts
Yeah. Would you?
Jane Burnham

You don’t think it’s kinda weird & fascist?
Lester Burnham
Possibly, but you don’t want to be unemployed.
Carolyn Burnham
Oh well, all right, let’s all sell our souls and work for Satan because it’s more convenient that way.
Lester Burnham

 

You better watch yourself, Jane, or you’re going to turn into a real BITCH, just like your MOTHER!
– Lester Burnham