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Movie Review: Life as a House

Story: How do we sum up our lives? What symbolizes our individual accomplishments? The events of September 11th probably have had all of us, at some point, assessing the meaning of our own lives. Life as a House attempts to use the metaphor of building a house, by a dying man, to tidily wrap up an otherwise, ill spent life. Unfortunately, this well meant effort falls short. Long time Oscar winning producer and now recent director Irwin Winkler (Guilt by Suspicion, At First Sight) gets some good work out of his cast but when a script is wanting, a director cannot perform miracles. There are dangling story lines and weak attempts at humor.

The idea of a dysfunctional family has been done many times before with better results. Writer Mark Andrus (with the vastly over rated credit of As Good as it Gets) is the guilty party in this very hackneyed story and script.

Acting: Kevin Kline is way up there on my top ten list. He can do no wrong for this reviewer. But I do enjoy his work in comedy more than in drama. (Think In and Out, A Fish Called Wanda or Soapdish). Kristin Scott Thomas once again plays an American wife with lots of hand wringing and hugging. Hayden Christensen plays the son, who also will be able to find himself in the building of the house. He is an extraordinary good looking young man so I read up on him in the massive handout that New Line Cinema gave the screening audience. He is going to be the Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker (who grows up to be Darth Vadar), in the next Star Wars film. Mary Steenburgen is the horny neighbor lady and is always good and underutilized by Hollywood.

Critters: A wonderful yellow lab, Guster, who practically steals the film.

Food: Pizza and turkey sandwiches.

Visual Art: The California coastline is quite a visual.

Blatant Product Placement: None.

Soundtrack: Too many violins.

Opening Titles: Uninspired.

Theater Audience: The four of us and two other folk. I loved the cozy MGM screening theater. The only thing missing was popcorn.

Sappy Factor: 8 (that number goes hand in hand with all of the violins).

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: None for me (perhaps a little welling), but one for my friend.

Oscar Worthy: No

Nit Picking: Don't get me started.

Big Screen or Rental: Wait for it to be on Lifetime or Hallmark Movie of the week.

Length: Two hours. Remember what Alfred Hitchcock said, The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.