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Overall Rating

Awesome: 31.71%
Worth A Look44.72%
Just Average: 0.81%
Pretty Crappy: 17.07%
Sucks: 5.69%

11 reviews, 57 user ratings

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I Heart Huckabees
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by Josh Gryniewicz

"Existentially hilarious -- just don't call it 'quirky'"
5 stars

At the center of David O. Russell’s "I Heart Huckabees" is an endearingly absurd exploration of metaphysics. A film that meditates on the question of existence by asking – is everything in the universe interconnected through a vast web of significance or is it all an expanse of meaningless nothingness and random occurrences – answering this with a resolute yes!

The film follows four dramatically different characters whose lives are drawn together by their respective existential crises and the metaphysical detectives who are on the case. Albert (Jason Schwartzman), a horrifyingly bad poet and environmental activist who heads up his local chapter of Open Spaces, a grassroots group pit against urban sprawl. Tommy (Mark Wahlberg) a burnt out firefighter obsessed with petroleum exploitation and the environmental, social and political destruction it causes. Brad (Jude Law) a glossy, irritating slickster sales rep for Huckabees (a Wal-Mart/ Target inspired "everything store") with a saccharine grin and oozing, insincere charisma. Dawn (Naomi Watts), Brad’s girlfriend and the spokesmodel for Huckabees. Each of them in the midst of a what – does – it – all – mean kind of experience are investigated by the emphatically non – therapeutic eccentric existential detectives, Bernard (Dustin Hoffman) and Vivian (Lily Tomlin) who attempt to unlock the key to each of their existences.

If all of this isn’t convoluted enough to muddle a plot, enter Caterine (Isabelle Huppert), former student of the Jaffes turned to the nihilistic dark side (with an expected amount of "Star Wars" references in tow) who attempts to corrupt/ educate Albert and Tommy in her own school of thought.

"Huckabees" success comes from the fact that the film never risks taking itself seriously, traipsing between philosophical theories would be awkwardly ridiculous if it weren’t for the film’s celebrating its ridiculousness from the start. In other words, Russell manages to handle a range of pop - philosophical, pop – mystical, pop – psychological theories on existence without any of the pretentiousness that permeates Richard Linklater’s films. In fact its similar to the methods that Russell plied for his anti – Gulf I film "Three Kings" layering its criticisms and significance beneath a veneer of comedy – action, thereby giving him a lot more freedom in expression.

It was less Linklater and more Kauffman however that seemed to be evoked in reference to the film since its release. I heard a number of comparisons that even turned "Eternal Sunshine on the Spotless Mind" writer into an adjective for the film – "Kauffman – esque." Whenever that term wasn’t being tossed around, it was P.T. Anderson ("Magnolia", "Punch – Drunk – Love") who was getting kudos for setting the "Huckabees" precedent – point being, "quirky" is not a genre. In other words, each filmmaker should be respected on their own merits, just because two films are unconventional does not mean they have anything in common. Russell should get props for his own signature style, the term "quirky" should be done away with completely and now, I will get off my soap box.

The cast lives up to their stellar reputations – every member of the ensemble is genius in their own right. Hoffman and Tomlin share a priceless comedic chemistry with an extraordinary sense of timing, both seem to relish their eccentric roles and make every on-screen moment intoxicating. Schwartzman, at ease as the off – the – wall outsider, portrays Albert in a style reminiscent to his Max Fischer performance in "Rushmore." Wahlberg’s off-kilter, hair trigger tempered, petroleum obsessed characterization would have been tiresome if executed by a lesser actor, but he manages to make the redundancy into a consistently funny punch line. And both Law and Watt’s respective meltdowns are some of the most entertaining bits of the film.

This film begs at least a second, if not a third, viewing – it is more sophisticated then it lets on and regards its philosophical themes without a pretentious air. Its unapologetic absurdity is its most redeeming quality and also maybe it’s most profound philosophical statement as well.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10446&reviewer=362
originally posted: 11/16/04 09:39:30
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Leeds Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Leeds Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/11/13 BB I love this movie. It's one of my all time favorites. Just funny. 5 stars
6/26/11 DR A hugely misguided philosophy that fails to satisfy itself within its running time. 1 stars
5/29/10 Roy Unsatisfing and basically random, fails as drama since people don't act like this. 2 stars
3/19/10 OHjAwdl JscaOGTU 1 stars
7/31/08 Ramone Gets better with each viewing - great cast, esp. Wahlberg. 4 stars
3/08/08 pin Wes Anderson meets Charlie Kaufman, sort of. 4 stars
7/11/07 Hello Stranger although dumbed down on thie matter, it is very original. made me think alot! 5 stars
7/09/06 Marty watch it as a parody and it's a lot of absurd fun 5 stars
7/03/06 Ashley Hinz Absolute Trash, I could not finish it. Took it out after less than 10 minutes. 1 stars
3/10/06 Tanya very good very funny 5 stars
2/20/06 Agent Sands Hilarious. Hilarious. Hilarious. Hilarious. Hilarious. 5 stars
1/31/06 chris. people need to read philosophy before hailing this as groundbreaking...but i like it 4 stars
12/14/05 Ewok Best of 2004. Law should have won an Oscar. Best score ever. 5 stars
12/12/05 Citizen Kane C-R-A-P! this movie should be erased!!! 1 stars
12/09/05 millersxing the damn movie crawls inside my head and lays eggs. 5 stars
10/26/05 Lizz Brilliant timing, unprentious sophistication, fun! 5 stars
9/04/05 Mike Simon got it. This film = read everything as fast as possible. Understand? Of course not! 1 stars
8/18/05 ES I'll second Simon's decree 2 stars
7/24/05 Bad Critic Hoffman and Schwartzman are great, but the plot is sort-of hard to follow. 4 stars
6/10/05 Simon This intellectual-bullshit movie is too in love with itself to have any cinematic merit. 2 stars
6/08/05 Agent Sands A very creative and interesting film. Isabelle Huppert gave me a boner, which isn't usual. 5 stars
5/24/05 Jake Funny, Bizarre, and brilliant. 5 stars
5/15/05 Indrid Cold Funny, thought-provoking but uneven in tone and pacing. 4 stars
5/13/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble One day will be a cult hit like Harold & Maude. 4 stars
5/06/05 Who Am I? Pretentious? For dumbed-down ignorant fools maybe, but a great film for the rest of us 4 stars
5/01/05 Mike Hawk Sublime film balancing metaphysics and comedy 5 stars
4/24/05 OverTheRainbow It's movie that makes you think; by the third time, maybe you will get it 4 stars
3/25/05 hannaho Hilariously transcendental! 4 stars
3/14/05 steandric with naomi watts in a brilliant comic role, nothing can go wrong with this film. 5 stars
3/04/05 chris. warning: you might have to actually use your BRAIN when you watch this movie. not for all! 5 stars
3/04/05 Matthew Studley Worthless piece of garbage. Don't mistake lack of talent for genius. 1 stars
2/25/05 strangelows pretentious, self-indulgent and rather boring crap 2 stars
12/26/04 Steve I was very bored by this movie, despite quality cinemetography. 2 stars
12/19/04 David Alexander All dialogue not funny very sick good actors bad film 1 stars
12/18/04 AL JOHNSON A clever,refreshingly different film.My faith in the film industy is restored. 5 stars
12/05/04 Jimmy Kustes I second the Jon Brion comment 5 stars
11/09/04 maximus Really funny but odd 4 stars
11/08/04 scooter The Soundtrack by Jon Brion is awesome! 5 stars
11/06/04 Elena If you didn't appreciate this you are intellectually devoid. A masterpiece! 5 stars
10/28/04 Amy Brilliant, but not for dumbed-down audiences! 5 stars
10/27/04 Lily superb: when brad&albert circle after al sees brad cry, centraly illustrates we are All One 5 stars
10/27/04 Mike H. This film is one of the most enjoyable,entertaining and thought provoking I have seen. 5 stars
10/25/04 ajay funny at parts, but it was a little too abstract for me. 2 stars
10/24/04 Jay Finally a movie worth the $9.00 admission price! 5 stars
10/24/04 Titus Not quite as satisfying as it promised, but a thoroughly worthy film. 4 stars
10/24/04 DM Fucking weird but surprisingly funny 4 stars
10/23/04 Kristen Hannum Brilliant fillm - funny, moving, thought-provoking. A feast for the confused. 5 stars
10/23/04 jcjs loved it 5 stars
10/15/04 Donanymous If you didn't like this movie, you're just too dumb to get it. It was brilliant!! 5 stars
10/12/04 Sherry original, funny, terrific cast, but a lot of work. 4 stars
10/12/04 makafka Liked the opening credits music, but the movie was just plain flat. 2 stars
10/12/04 asina one of those movies made only to get good reviews. 2 stars
10/11/04 A. Forbes totally unique. genius, if you ever read jps. 5 stars
10/07/04 Paul G. An new new cult film destined for deconstruction thru caffinated anaylsis with enthusiasm 5 stars
10/05/04 Amyjo Marsh Unfunny, pompous, pretentious, full of itself, and way, way too long 2 stars
9/12/04 Gregory Really funny and smart 5 stars
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  01-Oct-2004 (R)
  DVD: 22-Feb-2005



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