Architect George Monroe (Kevin Kline) has always dreamed of building his dream house, but life has got in the way. His ex-wife Robin (Kristin Scott Thomas) has rebuilt a new life for herself with husband Peter (Jamey Sheridan), but struggles to cope with rebellious teenage son Sam (Hayden Christensen), who is on a downhill trip with drugs. George’s neighbour Colleen (Mary Steenburgen) dated George a while ago, and her teenage daughter Alyssa (Jena Malone) was disappointed that nothing came of it. Now that George has only months to live, he is determined to build his house. And is intent on Sam helping him.

Thanks to the performances, the film just about avoids the sickly sentimentality it always skirts.

George Monroe, Kevin Kline, works as an architect but he lives in a rundown, badly cared for house on a clifftop overlooking the ocean. For years he\'s promised to pull the place down and build a dream house on this spot; but he\'s never got around to it. His wife, Robin, Kristin Scott Thomas, long ago left him together with their son, Sam, Hayden Christensen. When George, who has never moved with the times (he\'s never got computerised) is fired from his job and discovers that he has terminal cancer, he decides the time has come to build the house, and even though Sam, who is going through a rebellious stage, protests, George is determined that his son will help him fulfil his dream.

Irwin Winkler\'s well intentioned film is utterly predictable from the start. Once the set-up is established, we know that George\'s decision to build his house will redeem him and change the lives of everyone around him, particularly Sam, who soon sheds the eye make up, studs and ear-rings he wears at the start. Thanks to the performances, the film just about avoids the sickly sentimentality it always skirts. Kevin Kline gives a finely judged performance as George, though the reasons why he left it so long to be galvanised remain murky. And Hayden Christensen, whose role in Star Wars 2 looks like rocketing him into the big time, is very fine as the goth son who achieves maturity through the love of a woman and the friendship and affection of his long estranged father.