Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Movie Review (I Heart Huckabees)...

I Heart Huckabees

Director David O. Russell (Three Kings) brings us an ‘existential comedy’, where the laughs come as thick and fast as the ponderous, pseudo-philosophical dialogue. Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore) stars as Albert Markovski, the hippie head of the Open Spaces Coalition, fighting against the plans of department store chain, Huckabees, to lay waste to a woodland and marsh in order to erect a new store. Brad Stand (Jude Law), an executive climbing the corporate ladder at Huckabees, tries his best to manipulate the Open Spaces Coalition into conceding some land.

Albert has been experiencing a series of disconcerting life coincidences, the meaning of which he desperately needs to investigate. Upon hiring a pair of existential detectives, Bernard (Dustin Hoffman) and Vivian Jaffe (Lily Tomlin), he is forced to confront his fears, his emotions, and his new worst enemy, Brad Stand. Unbeknownst to Albert, Brad has also hired Bernard and Vivian, who see through the sham of his seemingly perfect life with model girlfriend and ‘voice of Huckabees’, Dawn Campbell (Naomi Watts).

This is a bizarre movie. One moment there’s talk about the meaning and/or meaninglessness of life, the next there’s an in-your-face slapstick comedy sequence. It shouldn’t work, but it does. While there have, and always will be, movies concerned with questions about the nature of the universe and the meaning of life, none seem to pull it off with such charming reckless abandon as I Heart Huckabees does, to such an extent that sometimes even the characters themselves acknowledge that they have no idea what others are saying to them.

Even the most wonderful screenplay could be let down by an uninterested cast, but thankfully everyone involved here gives their all, especially scene stealer Mark Wahlberg. Whether it’s Dawns eventual understanding that there may be more to life than selling her image, or Wahlbergs’ fire fighter finding himself while putting the pieces of his life back together after “that big September thing”, almost every scene is unforgettably entertaining.

4 out of 5