American Beauty (1999)
Hey, I dug Kevin Spacey, Conrad Hall's cinematography, and the reach of Alan Ball's script. But under the winkingly parodistic role-playing (frigid wife; unhappy Willy Loman character; Lolita cupcake; homosexually panicked marine; alienated daughter), there's more than a whiff of TV sitcom. Chekhov said if you bring a gun onstage, you'd best fire it before the play ends. Here, when the shot rings out we don't quite know who fired it—a bit of stagy misdirection that may have more to do with the original plot, framed by courtroom scenes, than dramatic necessity.