Life As A House (2001)

(On DVD, February 2003) From the trailer, I was led to expect a weepy drama where a terminally ill character manages to solve everyone else’s problems and does something cool before croaking. Well, that’s what I got, though it was slightly more fun that I expected. For one thing, the first half of the film has a certain edge as none of the character really like each other and aren’t exactly afraid to show it. The “tough love” approach taken by Kevin Kline’s character is fun to watch, and isn’t as sappy as his latter approach. What doesn’t work so well is the finale, precipitated by a few unexplainable acts taken by various characters and a whopper of a coincidence. Then it truly gets sappy and gag-inducing. But for a while, Life As A House nearly works because it doesn’t shamelessly pander to the audience. The DVD contains an interesting making-of featurette in which they describe how they built a neighbourhood specifically for the film. Alas, the good stuff is nearly driven out by the promotional fluff, in what may be an ironic comment on the film itself.

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