Life as a House
It's hard to believe that a teenage boy would be so desperate for ganja that he would let another teenage boy trick him out at a rest stop (can grass possibly be that hard to come by in Southern California?). Or that a middle-aged cancer patient--particularly one played by Kevin Kline--would get a passionate deathbed kiss from the jail-bait sexpot next door. But the most unexpected thing about Life as a House, directed by Irwin Winkler, is how sexed-up and convoluted this otherwise formulaic disease-of-the-week melodrama is. Kline plays George, a divorced dad who loses his job in an architecture firm and finds out he's terminally ill in the space of 24 hours. Since he only has a few months to live, he decides to pursue his lifelong dream of constructing a new house on the run-down waterfront property he inherited. He enlists the help of dour teen son Sam (Hayden Christensen, aka the new Anakin Skywalker), a goth terror with a penchant for autoerotic asphyxiation, and his remarried ex (Kristin Scott Thomas). The film's lurid subplots involving George's hot-to-trot neighbors (Mary Steenburgen and Jena Malone) and Sam's prep-school pimp (Ian Somerhalder) may be hilariously over-the-top, but they are what keeps House from succumbing to its own overpowering sappiness.