Life as a House
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Sometimes I am attracted to a movie just from seeing it's trailer.  Life as a House is a good example. The trailer doesn't dwell on the sadder aspects of this movie but instead shows the beautiful vistas looking out over the Pacific Ocean that are visible from the ``House."  I want that view.  So does Claudia.  So after seeing the trailer, this movie was a must see.  And it stars Kevin Kline.  I really love Kevin Kline.  He has starred in some of my favorite movies such as, The Big Chill, Silverado, and Dave.  Anyway, Life as a House tells the story of a man (Kline) who is divorced from his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas), estranged from his teenage son (Hayden Christensen), hasn't had a date in almost 10 years, gets fired and finds out that he is dying of cancer. And that's only the first 10 minutes of the movie!  As always happens, at least in the movies, Kline decides to make amends in the few months he has left.  So he decides to build his dream house along with his son.  Unfortunately, his son has other ideas like getting high and making some money as a prostitute.  Meanwhile, the son is living with Thomas and her new emotionally distant husband.  Also in the mix is Kline's next-door neighbor (Mary Steenbergen) and her daughter (Jena Malone).  It's all a bit predictable how this is going to go, the son resists Kline's attempts to bond and then relents, while finding love with the girl next door.  Thomas and Kline find closure, and the House gets built.  But I got sucked into the emotional manipulation and was quite teary by the end.  Most of the problems are with the script which launches us into the story without knowing how we got there and doesn't fill in the blanks.  The four main characters, Kline, Thomas, Christensen and Malone are all very good and rise above the material, particularly Kline and Christensen as the father and son.  You probably don't know Christensen now but come next May, he will be one of the best known actors in Hollywood.  His next film is Star Wars Episode II: The Attack of the Clones where he will be playing the young Darth Vader.  He's pretty dreamy looking and can actually act.  Thomas is good too and has a more likeable character than in some of her previous movies, Four Weddings and a Funeral, The English Patient, and The Horse Whisperer.  Malone, while only 17, is already a familiar face on TV and the movies. She did a memorable guest appearance on Homicide: Life on the Street and has been seen recently in Stepmom and For the Love of the Game.  She also was the young Ellie in Contact.  So far, she has made a career of playing, ``the daughter."  But really, Kevin Kline makes this movie believable even though some of the action around him is a bit cartoonish.  Unlike some movies where the terminally ill hero looks in the pink until 5 minutes before keeling over, Kline does a very good job of looking and acting like he's dying. So I'd recommend Life as a House, if only to see Kevin Kline in action and don't forget the `view.'