25 American Beauty Quotes to Shift Your Perspective on Life

Here are some thought-provoking American Beauty quotes that’ll help you find your purpose.

Those who watch American Beauty have many interpretations of what it’s trying to impart to its viewers. Some say it depicts life in urban suburbia; some say it’s a series of talks about love. But, more than this, American Beauty is about the indescribable meaning of life.

In this movie, we see lots of characters, especially Lester Burnham, come face to face with their internal battles. These conflicts vastly influence their view on life, their purpose, and if it’s truly worth living.

American Beauty is one of those movies that will have your head reeling with all the deep messages it conveys.

So, get ready to reflect on your own perspective when you read this list of quotes!

And make sure to check out these Million Dollar Baby quotes and Little Miss Sunshine quotes.

Best American Beauty Quotes

1. “I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn’t a second at all; it stretches on forever—like an ocean of time. For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars, and yellow leaves, from the maple trees that lined our street. Or my grandmother’s hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper. And the first time I saw my cousin Tony’s brand new Firebird, and Janie—and Janie, and Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me, but it’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes, I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much; my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst. And then I remember to relax and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain, and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry. You will someday.” – Lester Burnham

2. “Remember those posters that said, ‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life?’ Well, that’s true of every day but one—the day you die.” – Lester Burnham

3. “In order to be successful, one must project an image of success at all times.” – Buddy Kane

4. Carolyn Burnham: “Are you trying to look unattractive?”

Jane Burnham: “Yes.”

Carolyn Burnham: “Well, congratulations. You’ve succeeded admirably.”

5. Brad Dupree: “My job consists of basically masking my contempt for the *ssholes in charge, and, at least once a day, retiring to the men’s room so I can jerk off while I fantasize about a life that doesn’t so closely resemble Hell. Well, you have absolutely no interest in saving yourself.”

Lester Burnham: “Brad, for 14 years, I’ve been a whore for the advertising industry. The only way I could save myself now was if I started firebombing.”

6. Colonel Frank Fitts: “You need structure. Yeah? You need discipline.”

Ricky Fitts: “Yes, sir. Thank you for trying to teach me. Don’t give up on me, Dad.”

7. “It’s a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself. Makes you wonder what else you can do that you’ve forgotten about.” – Lester Burnham

8. “I don’t think that there’s anything worse than being ordinary.” – Angela Hayes

9. Carolyn Burnham: “Don’t you mess with me, mister, or I’ll divorce you so fast it’ll make your head spin!”

Lester Burnham: “On what grounds? I’m not a drunk, I don’t f*ck other women. I’ve never hit you. I don’t mistreat you. I don’t even try to touch you since you’ve made it so abundantly clear how unnecessary you consider me to be! But I did support you when you got your license, and some people might think that entitles me to half of what’s yours. So, turn off the light when you come to bed!”

10. “This isn’t life; it’s just stuff. And it’s become more important to you than living. Well, honey, that’s just nuts.” – Lester Burnham

11. “Everything that’s meant to happen does.” – Angela Hayes

12. “I feel like I’ve been in a coma for the past twenty years. And I’m just now waking up.” – Lester Burnham

13. Ricky Fitts: “It’s like God’s looking right at you, just for a second, and if you’re careful, you can look right back.”

Jane Burnham: “And what do you see?”

Ricky Fitts: “Beauty.”

14. “My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighborhood; this is my street; this is my life. I am 42 years old; in less than a year, I will be dead. Of course, I don’t know that yet, and in a way, I am dead already.” – Lester Burnham

Famous American Beauty Quotes

15. Angela Hayes: “Yeah? Well, at least I’m not ugly!”

Ricky Fitts: “Yes, you are. And you’re boring, and you’re totally ordinary, and you know it.”

16. Carolyn Burnham: “Uh, whose car is that out front?”

Lester Burnham: “Mine. 1970 Pontiac Firebird. The car I’ve always wanted, and now I have it. I rule!”

17. Lester Burnham: “I figured you guys might be able to give me some pointers. I need to shape up. Fast.”

Jim Olmeyer: “Are you just looking to lose weight, or do you want increased strength and flexibility as well?”

Lester Burnham: “I want to look good naked!”

18. “Look at me, jerking off in the shower. This will be the high point of my day; it’s all downhill from here.” – Lester Burnham

19. Lester Burnham: “When I was your age, I flipped burgers all summer just to be able to buy an eight-track.”

Ricky Fitts: “That sucks.”

Lester Burnham: “No, actually, it was great. All I did was party and get laid. I had my whole life ahead of me.”

20. “It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing, and there’s this electricity in the air; you can almost hear it. Right? And this bag was just dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For 15 minutes. That’s the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever.” – Ricky Fitts

American Beauty Quotes That Will Pique Your Interest

21. Jane Burnham: “I need a father who’s a role model, not some horny geek-boy who’s gonna spray his shorts whenever I bring a girlfriend home from school. What a lame-o. Someone really should just put him out of his misery.”

Ricky Fitts: “Want me to kill him for you?”

Jane Burnham: “Yeah. Would you?”

22. “Janie’s a pretty typical teenager. Angry, insecure, confused. I wish I could tell her that’s all going to pass, but I don’t want to lie to her.” – Lester Burnham

23. “Our marriage is just for show. A commercial for how normal we are when we’re anything but.” – Lester Burnham

24. Carolyn Burnham: “Uh, Buddy, this is my—.”

Lester Burnham: “Her husband. We’ve met before, but something tells me you’re going to remember me this time.”

25. Carolyn Burnham: “What are you doing?”

Lester Burnham: “Nothing.”

Carolyn Burnham: “You were m*st*rb*t*ng!”

Lester Burnham: “I was not.”

Carolyn Burnham: “Yes, you were!”

Lester Burnham: “Oh, alright! So shoot me, I was whacking off! That’s right, I was choking the bishop, chafing the carrot, you know, saying, ‘Hi’ to my monster!”

Did This List of American Beauty Quotes Improve Your Views on the World?

While there are many beautiful things that life offers, it’s also packed with many lows. When you’re stuck in the downsides of life, it will seem like there’s nothing left to live for. It’s like we don’t have any purpose of waking up to another day.

In a way, this is something characters in American Beauty feel, especially Lester Burnham. Many things happen to him over the course of the movie. He was unhappily married, his wife cheated on him, his daughter didn’t show affection to him, and he was slowly getting sucked in by temptation and desire.

He got overwhelmed with everything happening in his life and everything he was feeling. However, when he opened his eyes to what life was trying to teach him and when he learned to quench his desires, slowly, things started to get better. 

Lester was previously so over-sensitized by what was happening around him that he just felt lost and confused. But, when he slowed down and tried to think about everything, he slowly felt gratitude for the beautiful life he lived, was living, and will live.

Life is a puzzle that will be hard to piece together. However, like any puzzle, sometimes, all we need is patience and time to figure things out. With that, we hope this list was able to help you better understand what American Beauty truly wants to share with the world.

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Karen Danao

Hi, I’m Karen, a content curator and writer for Quote Ambition; I’m also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, I’m someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics I love writing about! However, my true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.

With the many places I’ve been to, I found that love, inspiration, and happiness are some things that bring people together. No matter how different we are on the outside, I’m a true believer that our emotions don’t lie; if you dig deep into our psyche, we’re all the same inside.

This belief was further amplified when I joined Quote Ambition. Through the quotes I’ve read, collected, organized, and written about, I found that humans are resilient, creative, and compassionate.

We take from each others’ hearts and courage, and it’s through our individual experiences that we learn how to rise above our challenges and pain. In so many ways, Quote Ambition is a platform that allows people from all over the world to gain the inspiration they need anytime, anywhere!

You can find me on MuckRack and LinkedIn.