George (Kevin Kline) has an aggressive, sadistic kind of cancer that aims to kill him quick, leaving him just enough time to trick his distant, alterna-punk teenaged son into loving him just a tiny little bit. Hopefully, at least.
Hayden Christensen, reviled for his turn as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, gets the hulking task of playing the repugnant teenaged son. You know he’s bad news because he’s got piercings, and may wear eye shadow. This makes parents uncomfortable!
His parents split up when he was young and even though they both seem like happy, loving people, this messed him up bad. Bad enough to listen to Limp Bizkit and dye his hair blue! Is he irredeemable? George hopes not, so with his remaining days, he decides to engage in a little restorative demolition to tear down the piece of shit house he’s always hated, and erect a new one in its stead.
I’m poking fun, because it’s very pokable, but there are some fine performances here. Kevin Kline in particular elevates the syrupy material, but I can’t help but feel bad for him when he’s forced to deliver very obvious speeches about all the themes the director doesn’t trust his idiot audience to have picked up on ourselves. Um, dude, it’s called Life As A House. That’s a pretty heavy-handed hint.
You know about 20 awkward minutes in that the ending’s going to come with a neat bow wrapped around it, everything resolved so fucking tidily, but there are real moments of truth between the globs of mawkishness. If you can bear it, you should.