Fifteen years after its original release, I recently re-watched this film and it continues to have a hold on me.
Despite it’s satirical style, at its core it is a moving and timeless look at issues of conformity and identity within the strict confines of a suburban setting. Executed in a way that is both humorous and tender, the film successfully draws connections between mid-life and adolescence: the need to define (or redefine) oneself, the desire for self determination, and the acts of rebellion which often accompany both stages.
A number of authentic moments break through the film’s satire. Among them, the plastic bag sequence, reminiscent of Jim McBride’s David Holzman’s Diary, presumably video footage from real life, observed. The scene is perhaps too abstract for most viewers, but I found the authenticity, sincerity and poetry of the dialogue and imagery deeply moving.
Thomas Newman’s soundtrack elevates this film from what could have been a tongue in cheek Hollywood production to something truly timeless. —Maja Brugos