Kevin Kline, Hayden Christensen, ...
Credit: Life as a House: Merie R. Wallace

In Life as a House, a rotting shack on a fancy piece of land represents the rotting life of baby-boomer George Monroe (Kevin Kline). His wife, Robin (Kristin Scott Thomas), has left him, fed up with George’s self-pitying frittering. His teenage son, Sam (Hayden Christensen, the real star of this production), hates him. George, an architect, has just been fired from his job — and for good measure he’s just been hit with a wrecking ball of a terminal illness. The dilapidated house is George’s inheritance from his own dead father; so are George’s dilapidated psyche and George’s unstable relationship with Sam. The whole site is due for renovation from the foundation up, while there’s still time. Stop me before I hammer another nail in the cheap pine of this plot.

”Life as a House,” directed with a screwdriver by Irwin Winkler from a Sheetrock screenplay by Mark Andrus (who previously cowrote the wood-veneer script for ”As Good as It Gets”), is no worse than any disease-of-the-week TV movie, and no more moralistic than any Lifetime drama. But it’s no better, either, and it ought to be, or else why not star Tom Berenger and Connie Sellecca?

Christensen — soon to hit pinup status in ”Star Wars” II and III as Anakin Skywalker — is a joy to watch, but when he’s not on screen, this movie is less instructive about the tools of life than any episode of ”This Old House.”

Life as a House
  • Movie
  • 124 minutes