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I Heart Huckabees

A movie directed by David O. Russell

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I'm in Love with I Heart Huckabees!

  • Dec 2, 2004
Pros: acting, script, premise, hilarity

Cons: believe it or not... JUDE LAW!, a little messy (but in a good way...)

The Bottom Line: Watching the [existential] detectives

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

I was going to go see Bridget Jones 2, but one of the people I was hanging out with had already seen it, so we decided to see I Heart Huckabees instead. Man, am I glad we made that choice! Rather than being a formulaic, predictable, nauseatingly sweet romantic comedy like BJ2 no doubt is, I Heart Huckabees is remarkably original.

If you can get past the annoying title (the symbol is pronounced "heart" rather than "love"), you'll be in for a real treat as the film is a giddy romp through the existential dilemmas we face on a daily basis in this post-post-post modern world. Writer/Director David O. Russell pits Zen interconnectedness against nihilism with hilarious results.

Don't be intimidated by the heavy-sounding themes and feel that you need to bone up on Kant or Nietzsche before heading to the cinema, however. I Heart Huckabees is a zany, slapstick-filled comedy. While it certainly has more brains than your average Hollywood release, you don't have to be an intellectual heavyweight to enjoy I Heart Huckabees.

With no introduction, Russell throws the viewer into the catastrophe that is Albert Markovski's life. The film opens to Albert (Jason Schwartzman) swearing like a sailor. The young environmental activist sits on a boulder surrounded by police tape, and we learn that the stone is the only part of a meadow he has managed to save. The rest of the wetland has been bought by real estate developers.

Albert's nemesis is Brad Stand (Jude Law), an executive at Huckabees, a Wal-Mart type of establishment. With his dyed blond hair, ugly blue suit, and trophy girlfriend, Huckabees spokesmodel Dawn Campbell (Naomi Watts), Brad is a phony. Albert's Open Spaces organization has a campaign to protect forests and meadows using poetry, flyers, and guerrilla tactics such as planting trees in parking lots. Brad pretends to be an ally of the environment and joins Albert's Open Spaces coalition, organizing a benefit concert with Shania Twain that is really just a Huckabees publicity stunt. A typical, pretentious name-dropper, Brad loves telling stories about interacting with "Shania" and "Garth," referring to these country superstars by their first names as if they were good friends of his.

Wondering what it's all about and where his life is going, Albert employs the help of "existential detectives" Vivian (Lily Tomlin) and Bernard (Dustin Hoffman) to "solve his coincidence." Albert is convinced that he must keep running into a tall, African man for some reason and wants to find out why. Tomlin, who wears the best power suit since Pam Greer in Jackie Brown, and a Beatle mop-topped Hoffman make a hilarious couple, and their facial expressions as they sneak around "spying" on Albert and Brad are priceless.

While I normally love Jude Law (see Alfie), his half-hearted American accent in Huckabees is distracting. Yes, he's supposed to be a snob and a fake, but a more alpha male type actor would have been more suited for the role.

The actor who really shines in I Heart Huckabees is Mark Wahlberg as Tommy Corn, a firefighter who feels so strongly about the evils of petroleum that he rides his bike to conflagrations... in L.A! Tommy, who is a perfect sidekick (or "other" as Vivian and Bernard refer to their partnership) for fellow bike rider Albert, gets to deliver some of the film's funniest lines. A highlight is when the two cyclists go to visit the African man's American host family, and Tommy visciously criticizes the family's consumerist lifestyle.

Naomi Watts is also brilliant when she goes through an existential dilemma of her own.

To counter the Zen philosophy of Vivian and Bernard, we have French nihilist Caterine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert). She smacks Albert and Tommy with a giant medicine ball and leads Albert into the bog for one of the funniest sequences in the movie.

With its quick-witted dialogue and unusual premise, I Heart Huckabees is sure to make you laugh, and it might even increase your opinion of Shania Twain.


Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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More I ♥ Huckabees reviews
review by . January 02, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Infinite Laughter: The Layman's Guide to Grasping Existential Humor
From director David O. Russell (Three Kings) comes the film I ♥ Huckabees, a quirky comedy that dares to be intelligent and self-satirical. The film's screenplay, which was written by David O. Russell and Jeff Baena, is surprisingly original, for a comedy that is. Delving into quasi-spiritual/philosophical ideas, I ♥ Huckabees is at times pretentious and too pleased with itself. But if the film comes off as being smug, it does so in a paradoxically unobtrusive manner. What the film …
review by . November 02, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
This movie is obviously not for everyone. It's not a comedy that you just put in and sit back and be shut down the old cranium for the two plus hour's. Nope, instead you get the muscle a-cranking. Huckabees requires you to really pay attention and think and take everything in. This film explores several questions mainly dealing with the connection between one person and to the heart, soul, and body of every other thing in existence in an ever-changing world. This film is a big orgy of questioning. …
review by . February 22, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
I Heart Huckabees is certainly not your everyday comedy and for you to even snicker your going to have to watch it a few times. It gets very weird then it gets a little dry but what saves it is the performances of Mark Wahlberg, Jude Law, and Jason Schwartzman. If they didn't put in a little extra effort then this film would have tanked. I Heart Huckabees definitely isn't for everyone but it's worth at least one watch for a few laughs.
review by . February 24, 2005
I HEART HUCKABEES is odd, weird, unfocused, overly obtuse, and flagrantly over directed and produced. So why bother seeing it? Well, given all the above negatives, it all depends on what you expect from spending and hour and a half of your time with an experimental film. First clue: the cast. There must be a reason that such class actors as Isabelle Huppert, Jude Law, Naomi Watts, Dustin Hoffman, and yes, Lily Tomlin would want to be a part of this mélange of comedy and philosophy and environmental …
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David O. Russell, the director of dark incest comedy SPANKING THE MONKEY, slapstick ensemble FLIRTING WITH DISASTER, and Gulf War adventure THE THREE KINGS, has established himself as a boldly original filmmaker. With his fourth film, I HEART HUCKABEES, Russell continues to defy easy definition, mixing physical comedy, existential philosophy, corporate satire, and quixotic quest. Jason Schwartzman, proving that he is capable of more than simply reviving his iconic RUSHMORE character, plays Albert, an environmental activist prone to bad poetry and self-doubt. During his campaign to stop Huckabees, a suburban superstore, from destroying marshland, Albert's group is taken over by one of the store's vapidly charming salesmen, a pitch-perfect Jude Law. Utterly distraught and questioning the meaning of life, Albert seeks the help of a bizarre husband-and-wife team of "existential detectives." By spying on Albert's daily life, they seek to help him answer that most elemental of human questions, "Why am I here?"...

Billed as "an existential comedy,"I Heart Huckabeesis a flawed yet endearingly audacious screwball romp that dares to ponder life's biggest questions. Much of director David O. Russell's philosophical humor is dense, talky, and impenetrable, leading critic Roger Ebert to observe that "it leaves the viewer out of the loop," and suggesting that Russell's screenplay (written with his assistant, Jeff Baena) is ...
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Director: David O. Russell
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Release Date: 22 October 2004 (USA)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: David O. Russell, Jeff Baena
DVD Release Date: February 22, 2005
Runtime: 107 min
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
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