So I just saw American Beauty with Kevin Spacey and quite frankly it's pretty awesome, and it held out as I'd heard; there are many ways to interpret the film. It's almost like what Hopscotch did but in a movie (Yes, I know there's a book, I'll read it at some point). Anyways, what can you learn from it?
Never conform, stand up for yourself
Lester Burnham is a pretty ordinary guy living a pretty ordinary life. He's a doormat: his wife spends her time emasculating and belittling him and his daughter's following her example, so he's pretty miserable. Of course, he goes through a rite of passage, which begins after he smokes a drag with his new neighbor, and he finally gets his family and others to stop treating him like he's invisible.
Don't get stuck in a rut
|Life can become a mundane prison if you let it.|
Another problem is that Lester had been working for the same advertising company for fourteen years. Of course he ends up telling his boss to fuck off and with a good-enough blackmail managed to get a year's worth of salary plus bonus. Although you shouldn't follow his example and just quit your job, it'd be best if you at least try something new every day, no matter how small, be it taking a new route for your commute or daily walk, reading a new book, etc.
Don't repress your sexuality (especially if you're married)
|"Look at me, jerking off in the shower..."|
This is something that can ruin many a great relationship and marriage. Somehow both members will hold out and stop doing the old in-out, which tends to lead to misery in the relationship, because, after all, sex is pretty much expected. Thus, in the movie, Lester and his wife end up looking for love somewhere else and Carolyn actually ends up cheating on her husband.
Don't obsess over work
Work can make you miss out so much and it becomes a war of attrition against your body and mind. If you paid close attention to Carolyn, you could tell that she was so into her work that she became a psycho. She would constantly hit herself to call herself a weak bitch and she would even cry if she didn't sell a house in a particular day.
Keep in touch with your youth
There is something interesting that happens within the film, which is that Lester mentions to his neighbor how he had his whole life ahead of himself when he was working flipping burgers. And, of course, he ends up flipping burgers once he's financially independent in order to remind himself of how he felt during his youth.
In order to be successful, one must project an image of success at all times
Although this is said by one of two cheating bastards in the movie, it does make sense. It's like a bum who wants to get a job. You're not getting anything good if you go to an interview smelling like shit and with ripped clothes. You have to invest in your own image so that others will actually want to collaborate with you.
You can find beauty in everything
Ricky Fitts is a weird character. He spends his time with his camera, filming things. He once filmed a bum who froze to death because he felt it was beautiful. Same for a dead bird, for a plastic bag floating around in the wind. Same as Baudelaire probably loved a balding prostitute with horrid teeth. If you look for beauty, you'll find it almost anywhere (It's still strange to find a dead bird beautiful, though).
Lester gets ripped and he gets the girl. Also, you'll feel better about yourself, eat better, and in general, be better.
Homophobia can be an ugly thing
One of the homophobics is a closet gay. Just sayin'. Anyways, prejudice in general sucks unless it's against something like an ideology that harms others, like Nazism or something.
You have your whole life ahead of you
Although you can feel lost sometimes, remember that you've still got something to live for. You can last another year or another fifty, the point is, never stop living with a zest for life, because you never know when you'll bite the dust.