Life as a House

Rated 2.0 Loner architect George (Kevin Kline) is fired from his job and diagnosed with a terminal disease. He tears down his dilapidated seaside cottage and builds a new house, and tries to reconnect with his glue-sniffing Marilyn Manson poster son (Hayden Christensen) and remarried ex-wife (Kristin Scott Thomas). Producer Irwin Winkler makes a dubious leap to directing with this male Terms of Endearment that dilutes American Beauty dysfunction with a tribal Howard Hawks sense of optimism and community. Oscar-nominated Winkler (Rocky) and writer Mark Andrus (As Good As It Gets) apparently wanted to make a pungent, moving story about relationships, redemption and rotating emotions, but this melodrama feels false where Beauty smacked of truth, and Winkler gushes and sputters where Hawks romanticized and entertained.