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So this realization just hit me like Brad Pitt’s imaginary fist and I had to share it with the word. Both American Beauty and Fight Club follow nearly the same formula, hit the same plot points and have many parallel characters, yet (both being EXCELLENT films) manage to tell wildly different stories. !!!SPOILERS FOR BOTH MOVIES FOLLOW!!!
American Beauty And Fight Club Are The Same Movie
We meet a guy in corporate hell, he hates his life, he hates his job, he searches for meaning in the ideal of the American consumerist dream, but finds nothing there of substance. Just as he hits his breaking point he meets someone (real or imagined) who opens his eyes to his own bullshit. He has a meeting with his boss, almost gets fired, then blackmails his boss for a year’s salary. Free to live on his own terms, he does just that. He strips away the trappings of his old life and begins to pursue joy, meaning, purpose, etc. He turns himself into the person he’s always wanted to be. He starts to see the version of himself he sees on the inside out in the real world (more so in one of their cases). By throwing himself into his new journey, he loses touch with caring for the wellbeing of the other real people in his life. Realizing it or not, he gets in over his head with this new found clarity, get “killed,” THEN has an actual moment of clarity post “death” where he realizes his old life wasn’t as pointless as he’d come to believe, and his new life wasn’t the perfect answer to all of his problems that he’d thought it was. Then a Pixies song plays. Or it doesn’t.
Several people on twitter pointed out that Office Space fits into this theme as well. I’d say it’s a CLOSE match. Maybe 75% of the themes translate between Office Space and the other two. I would also argue that all three of these movies are perfect. I ALSO want to point out that all three of these movies came out in 1999, the year I graduated high school. The year I moved away from home and took control of my own life. What was it about the climate in America in 1999 that was so focused on “WE ARE LIVING A CORPORATE BULLSHIT FAKE FAMILY KEEPING UP APPEARANCES LIE?” I guess it’s because we sort of were.