YMMV / American Beauty

  • Award Snub: Despite the praise it received, Thomas Newman's score failed to win a Oscar. Some also were disappointed that Chris Cooper didn't receive a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role.
  • Awesome Music: "Any Other Name".
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Angela nearly lets a friend's middle aged father take her virginity, and tearfully admits how stupid she feels for it. Later, Mena Suvari, her actor, told the public that she regretted whom her first time was with (albeit this was a "loser" by her words, not a much older man).
    • Thora Birch plays a teenager whose father struggles to connect with her. In the 2000s her own father (who acted as her manager) would cost her numerous roles because of his Stage Dad tendencies, and her career took a serious hit.
    • Ricky as a drug dealer is quite harsh when you realize that Wes Bentley fell into a bad drug habit after he couldn't deal with the fame of this movie.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Hollywood Homely: Jane, particularly with regards to that whole "saving up for a boob job" thing. It might be intentional; she's meant to be beautiful, but has poor self-image. There's also the question of whether she's planning to get an enhancement or a reduction. Without the benefit of freeze-frame, it could be read either way. And works either way too! Based on the way she and Ricky acted when she said that, it seemed they were both aware of the irony that she no longer needed the money for such a thing. Time took care of it.
  • Hype Aversion: Some people thought it was over-hyped, including the film's director.
  • Inferred Holocaust: Almost all of the rest of the cast have a reason to have committed Lester's murder and all of their dirty laundry is going to come out in the ensuing criminal investigation.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Carolyn treats her family more like employees or pieces of furniture to make her life look better than it actually is. And that's not to mention having an affair. But looking at Lester's flashbacks of her, she was a happy woman once, and just became obsessed with being perfect. She does seem genuinely remorseful when Lester busts her for her affair.
    • Angela is vapid and superficial, and it's possible she's only using Jane to feel better about herself. But it's clear that the girl has defined her entire worth to be based on how she looks, and feels she doesn't have anything to owe the world besides her beauty. Her reaction to Ricky telling her she's ugly is actually pretty sad.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The image of Angela covered by rose petals is highly subject to parodies.
    • Caroline in the doorway watching Lester put his feet on the table.
    • "My job consists of basically masking my contempt for the assholes in charge, and at least once a day retiring to the men's room so I can jerk off, while I fantasize about a life that doesn't so closely resemble hell."
    • "Today I quit my job. And then I told my boss to go fuck himself, and then I blackmailed him for almost $60,000. Pass the asparagus."
  • Narm:
    • While the message—that beauty is all around us if we know where to look—is fine, many viewers found the way that several of the characters regarded that little plastic bag blowing in the wind as being a little bit overwrought and pretentious. It's a bag caught in an updraft; it might make a very nice image, but it's hardly the cure for cancer or anything as groundbreaking or awe-inspiring as the characters seem to think it is. It's worse when you know the effect is completely artificial; there were two guys with leaf blowers standing just out of the frame to keep it moving for that long.
    • Kevin Spacey's frozen, slack-jawed expression that the camera zooms in on when he sees Angela for the first time, though he was probably meant to look dumb there.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Especially since a film that looked at the darker nature of suburbia was considered a marvel then, but the themes tackled in this film have been more common by now.
  • Values Dissonance: The criticism from most of the negative reviewers came mostly about the film appearing to glamorize the lifestyle of the man after he starts neglecting his responsibilities to his family in favor of buying drugs from and trying to seduce high-school students as a middle-aged man, as well as further trying to avoid responsibility by getting an entry-level job, despite his family's middle-class lifestyle and daughter approaching college age (despite the fact that he had blackmailed his way into a nice severance package beforehand and therefore didn't really need a job). Responsibility doesn't seem to go hand in hand with happiness for the protagonist, although it's debatable how "happy" he was at any point in the film.
  • The Woobie:
    • Jane, who feels worthless at the beginning of the film. Her relationship with Ricky is down to him being the first person to show her real attention as a person.
    • Ricky too, considering he lives with an abusive father and a depressed mother. He's also a bully victim and mocked at school for being different.
    • Lester at the start even if he hides it beneath layers of sarcasm. Anyone who has ever felt that their best days are behind them and felt that horrible sense of being detached from life will definitely relate.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/AmericanBeauty