American Beauty

LESTER: My name is Lester Burnham. I'm forty two-years old. In less than a year, I'll be dead. In a way, I'm dead already. Look at me jerking off while I listen to country music. I hated this shit when I was growing up. Funny thing is, this is the high point of my day. It's all downhill from here.

LESTER: And this is my daughter Jane. Only child. She takes after her mother in a lot of ways, although she'd never admit it. Janie is a pretty typical teenager. Angry, insecure, confused. I wish I could tell her all that's going to pass. But I don't want to lie to her.

LESTER: Both my wife and my daughter think I'm this gigantic loser. And they're right. I've lost something very important. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but I know I didn't always fell this... sedated. But you know what? It's never too late to get it back.

BRAD: Les. Got a minute?

LESTER: For you, Brad? I've got five.

BRAD: Good. Why don't we talk in my office?

BRAD: ... so I'm sure you can understand the need to cut corners around here.

LESTER: Sure. Times are tight, and you need to free up cash. Gotta spend money to make money.

BRAD: Exactly.

LESTER: Like when our editorial director used the company MasterCard to pay for a hooker, and then she used the card number to stay at the St. Regis for, what was it, three months?

BRAD: That's unsubstantiated gossip.

LESTER: That's fifty thousand dollars. That's somebody's salary. Somebody who's probably gonna get fired because Craig has to pay women to fuck him!

BRAD: Jesus. Calm down. Nobody's getting fired yet. That's why we're having everyone write a job description, mapping out in detail how they contribute. That way, management can assess who's valuable and who's -

LESTER: Expendable.

BRAD: It's just business.

LESTER: So Janie, how was school?

JANE:It was okay.

LESTER: Just okay?

JANE: No, Dad. It was spec-tac-ular.

LESTER: Want to know how things went at my job? They've hired this efficiency expert. He's really friendly, and I really hate his guts. See, they're going to lay somebody off, but in the interest of being democratic, everybody gets to write a "job description" for him, in the hopes the assholes in management will read it and say, "Whoa, we can't do without this guy..."

LESTER: You couldn't possibly care any less, could you?

JANE: Dad, what do you expect? You can't all of a sudden be my best friend, just because you've got a problem. I mean, hello. You've barely even spoken to me for months.

LESTER: Oh, what, you're mother-of-the-year? You treat her like an employee.


CAROLYN: Lester, this is important. I'm sensing a real distance growing between you and Jane.

LESTER: Growing? She hates me.

CAROLYN: She's just willful.

LESTER: She hates you too.

CAROLYN: Honey, I'm proud of you. I watched you very closely, and you didn't screw up once.

RICKY: What's new in the world, Dad?

COLONEL: This country is going straight to hell.

RICKY: So nothing's changed.

CAROLYN: ...and you'll be surprised how much a ceiling fan can cut down on your energy costs.

MAN: I got a cousin, he was a ballplayer. Ceiling fan fell on him in a bar and severed a tendon in his shoulder. Never fully regained use of that arm. Ruined his career.

WOMAN: The ad said this pool was "lagoon-like." But there's nothing "lagoon-like" about it. Except for maybe the bugs. There's not even any plants out here.

CAROLYN: I have an excellent landscape architect -

WOMAN: I mean, I think "lagoon," and I think waterfall, I think tropical. This is just a cement hole.

LESTER: We've actually met. At this same thing last year? Wait - maybe it was that Christmas thing at the Sheraton.

LEONARD: Oh, yes.

LESTER: It's okay. I wouldn't remember me either.

LESTER: I think you just became my personal hero. Doesn't that make you nervous, just quitting your job like that? Well, I guess when you're all of, what? Sixteen?

RICKY: Nineteen. I was held back a few years in school. I just do these gigs every now and then as a cover. I have other sources of income. But my dad interferes a lot less in my life when I pretend to be an upstanding young citizen with a respectable job.

CAROLYN: What are you doing?

LESTER: What does it look like I'm doing? I'm whacking off.


LESTER: Spanking the monkey. Flogging the bishop. Choking the chicken. Jerking the gherkin.

CAROLYN: How disgusting.

LESTER: Oh. Well, forgive me, but I still have blood pumping through my veins!

LESTER: Hey! You guys!

JIM #2: Lester, I didn't know you ran.

LESTER: Just started.

JIM #1: Good for you.

LESTER: I figured you guys might be able to give me some pointers. I need to shape up. Fast.

JIM #1: Well, are you just looking to lose weight, or do you want increased strength and flexibility as well?

LESTER: I want to look good naked.

LESTER: Well, now I know how you can afford all this equipment. When I was your age, I worked at McDonald's all summer just to buy an eight track.

RICKY: That sucks.

LESTER: Actually, it was probably the best time of my life. All I did was party and get laid.

RICKY: My dad thinks I paid for all this with catering jobs. Never underestimate the power of denial.

CAROLYN: Lester, that is a forty-thousand dollar car. I don't want you driving it when -

LESTER: Fine. I'll never drive your precious Mercedes again. Big whoop. It's just a glorified station wagon that you paid way too much for because you want to impress people.

BRAD: "... 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." Well, you obviously have no interest in saving yourself.

LESTER: I've spent fourteen years being a whore for the advertising industry. The only way I could save myself now is to start firebombing.

BRAD: Whatever. Management wants you gone by the end of the day.

LESTER: Whoa. What kind of severance package is "management" prepared to give me? Considering the information I have about our editorial director buying pussy with company money. Which I'm sure would interest the I.R.S., since, technically, it does constitute fraud. And some of our advertisers and rival publications might like to know about it as well. Not to mention Craig's wife.

BRAD: What do you want?

LESTER: One year's salary, with continued benefits.

BRAD: That's not going to happen.

LESTER: What if I throw in a little sexual harassment charge?

BRAD: Against who?

LESTER: Against you.

LESTER: Can you prove you didn't offer to save my job if I'd let you blow me?

BRAD: Man. You are one twisted fuck.

LESTER: Nope. Just an ordinary guy with nothing to lose. I hope you and I can still be friends, Brad. And even though you didn't save my job... you can still blow me, asshole.

JOCK: Just say the word, baby, and it's yours.

ANGELA: Great. Wrap it up and I'll take it home. Oh, and I'd like thin slices, please.

ANGELA: What are you doing?

RICKY: I was filming this dead bird.


RICKY: Because it's beautiful.

COUNTER GIRL: Smile, you're at Smiley's Would you like to try our new bacon and egg fajita, just a dollar twenty-nine for a limited time only?

LESTER: Actually, I'd like to fill out an application.

COUNTER GIRL: There's not jobs for manager, it's just for counter.

LESTER: Good. I'm looking for the least possible amount of responsibility.

MANAGER: I don't think you'd fit in here.

LESTER: I have fast food experience.

MANAGER: Yes, like twenty years ago.

LESTER: Well, I'm sure there have been amazing technological advancements in the industry, but... surely you have some sort of training process. It seems unfair to presume I won't be able to learn.

Should you choose not to hire me, I have to assume it's because of my age, which I can only interpret as discrimination and would have to take up with my attorney.

RICKY: That was amazing.

JANE: What was amazing about it?

RICKY: When you see something like that, it's like God is looking right at you, just for a second. And if you're careful, you can look right back.

JANE: And what do you see?

RICKY: Beauty.

JANE: Is it only dead things?

RICKY: No. Not at all. No, it's everywhere. You just have to be open to it.

RICKY: Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in.

JANE: Sorry I'm late.

CAROLYN: That's quite all right, dear. Your father and I were just discussing his day at work. Why don't you tell our daughter about it, honey?

LESTER: Janie, today I quit my job. I also told my boss to fuck himself, and then blackmailed him for almost sixty-thousand dollars. Pass the asparagus.

CAROLYN: Your father seems to think this kind of behavior is something to be proud of.

LESTER: And your mother seems to prefer I go through life like a fucking prisoner while she keeps my dick in a mason jar under the sink.

CAROLYN: How dare you speak to me like that in front of her?

LESTER: Will someone please pass me the asparagus?

CAROLYN: I hope you don't think for one minute I'm going to support you

LESTER: I already have another job.

LESTER: I'm sick of being treated like I don't exist. You both do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it and I don't complain. All I want is the same courtesy -

CAROLYN: Do you really think -

LESTER: Don't interrupt me, honey. Oh, and another thing. From now on, we're going to alternate our dinner music. Because frankly, and I don't think I'm alone here, I'm really tired of this Lawrence Welk shit.

CAROLYN: Whose car is that out front?

LESTER: Mine. 1972 Pontiac GTO. The car I always wanted and now I have it. I rule!

CAROLYN: Where's the Camry?

LESTER: I traded it in.

CAROLYN: Shouldn't you have consulted me first?

LESTER: Hm. Let me think... No. You never drove it.

JANE: You must really hate him.

RICKY: He's not really a bad man. He's just one of those people who needs everybody to make the same choices he did. So he can feel good about himself.

JANE: Yeah, but you lost two whole years of your life.

RICKY: I didn't lose them. It taught me how to step back, and just... watch, and not take everything so personally. And that's something I needed to learn. That's something everybody needs to learn.

JANE: Well... you better believe I'd hate my father if he did something like that to me. Wait. I do hate my father.

LESTER: Remember those posters that said, Today is the first day of the rest of your life? Well, that's true of every day except one. The day that you die.

CAROLYN: What's good here?

LEONARD: Nothing.

CAROLYN: Then I guess we'll just have to be bad, won't we?

LESTER: Smile, you're at Smiley's. Would you like to try our new beef and cheese pot pie on a stick, just a dollar ninety nine, for a limited time only?

CAROLYN: We just came from a seminar. Leonard, this is my -

LESTER: Her husband. We've met before, but something tells me you're going to remember this time.

CAROLYN: Lester, please don't -

LESTER: Uh-un, You don't get to tell me what to do. Ever again.

ANGELA: Apparently, dating a psycho makes you totally lose your sense of humor.

JANE: Yeah, well, apparently, fucking everything that walks turns you into a total bitch.

COLONEL: Your wife is with another man and you don't care.

LESTER: Nope. Our marriage is just for show. It's a commercial, proving how normal we are, when we are anything but.

LESTER: They say your entire life flashes in front of your eyes when you die. It's not really your entire life... It's just the moments that stood out... And they're not the ones you'd expect, either...

LESTER: The moments you remember are tiny ones, some you haven't thought of in years... If you've thought of them at all... But in the last second of your life, you remember them with astonishing clarity... Because they're just so... beautiful... that they must have been imprinted, on like a cellular level...

For me it was, lying on my back at Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars...

And yellow leaves from the ginkgo 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 GTO...

And the way I felt when Angela first smiled at me...

LESTER: I guess I could be pretty pissed 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.