Life As A House is a tough movie to review, simply because of the sex and drug aspect of it coinciding with an extremely positive message! Either way, I love this movie to death (it's one of my all-time favorite movies), and I watch it whenever I need a little pick-me-up or just want to watch a good movie.
Hayden Christensen stars as Sam Monroe, a 16 year-old drug addict who dyed part of his hair blue. He lives with his mother, Robin Kimball (Kristin Scott Thomas), and uninterested, unaffectionate stepfather, Peter Kimball (Jamey Sheridan), but his life turns around for the good when his real father, George Monroe (Kevin Kline), insists on taking him for the summer.
His father has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and wants to tear down his run-down "house" and build a new one. Sam has not talked to or cared about his father for years. As much as Sam does not want to go, his mother makes him.
Sam needs money to pay back a friend, Josh (Ian Somerhalder), for the drugs he bought from him, so he turns to a prostitution attempt only once. Nothing is seen except for Sam getting into the car and, when caught by the cops, running away with his pants down. However, he is wearing long boxers, so it's really not anything to be concerned about. Sam meets Alyssa (Jena Malone), in which he shares a brief shower scene with, however, nothing below their necks are shown. They make out shortly, and the scene changes.
Over time, Sam becomes clean of drugs, takes out his piercings, stops wearing freaky makeup, and dresses normally, instead of spiky, dark things. He becomes a much happier person, helping his father build the house. He enlists the help of Alyssa with the house. Alyssa later enlists Josh and some other professional workers. Sam's mother and half-brothers help out, too, and, even later, his step-father.
George also reconnects with Robin, and they kiss for a short period of time.
When Sam finds out his father has terminal cancer, he relies on Alyssa to comfort him. They sleep together, but nothing more. No kissing, no sex.
After George collapses in his garage, Sam strings Christmas lights around the entire new house so George can see it from his hospital room window. Sam finishes the house, while his mother stays with George in the hospital. Soon after, George dies. When Robin informs him of this, he breaks down and cries.
In one of the scenes, George tells Sam about how his father had hurt a little girl in a car crash twenty-nine years ago. He says he thinks about her all the time, about what her life must be like now.
The happy ending in this movie is that when George dies and Sam finishes the house, Sam decides to give the house to the now-full-grown little girl in the car crash, who is living in a trailer park.
George's last line, a voice-over in the final scene overlooking the house, is said to Sam : "I always thought of myself as a house. I was always what I lived in. It didn't need to be big; it didn't even need to be beautiful; it just needed to be mine. I became what I was meant to be. I built myself a life... I built myself a house. Twenty-nine years ago, my father crossed a double line. Changed my life and the life of a little girl forever with that mistake. I can't stop thinking about her. With every crash of every wave, I hear something now. I never listened before. I'm on the edge of a cliff, listening. Almost finished. If you were a house , Sam, this is where you would want to be built: on rock, facing the sea. Listening. Listening."
Another thing you should take note of with this movie is a short sex scene between Josh and Alyssa's mother, Colleen Beck (Mary Steenburgen). No body parts are seen except for the two under the covers. However, like I said, it is short, and you can easily fast-forward through it.
There is language, but it is used in a way where it is powerful and adds to the emotion of the movie.
Overall, this is an exceptional, terrific, fantastic, wonderful, awesome, amazing movie! Like I said earlier, it is one of my favorite movies of all time. It brings me to tears every time I watch it.
As for why I said you should pause for kids 12 & under, you should definitely know your child and the amount of sexual and drug scenes they can handle. However, I tried to explain it the best I could, that the so-called "inappropriate" scenes in this movie are really nothing to worry about, as they are all short, and nothing is ever seen. DO NOT worry about the fact that this movie is rated R. I think that is a ridiculous rating - there is nothing R-rated about this movie. It should most definitely be PG-13.
Like I said, I love this movie, and I definitely recommend it to everyone ages 9 & above.
This is a must-see movie for everyone - it is fantastic!
P.S. It's soundtrack is just as fantastic as the movie! :-)