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October 13, 2004

{     I ♥ Huckabees     }    

pf.jpgDavid O. Russell, of "Three Kings", "Flirting with Disaster", and "Spanking the Monkey" fame directs this tricky little film. "I ♥ Huckabees" is a study of the interrelatedness of all things, as seen through the eyes of Albert Markovski, (Jason Schwartzman) a struggling political activist in the midst of an existential crisis. Albert hires "existential detectives" Bernard and Vivian (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin) to investigate the coincidental nature of why he has three times crossed paths with a tall African autograph hound. Concluding that all the factors in Albert's life are related to the incident, the detectives delve deeper by observing him at work where he's struggling to deal with man's man and Huckabees department store representative Brad Stand (Jude Law) who he's teamed-up with to save an endangered marshland with a program called Open Spaces. To complicate things even further, Albert has a crush on Huckabee spokes-model Dawn Campbell (Naomi Watts), Brad's girlfriend. To help Albert come to terms his situation, the two detectives introduce Albert to his "Other", Tommy Corn (Mark Wahlberg), a young firefighter who has found himself in a political and emotional crisis similar to Albert's. On their quest to enlightenment, French radical and existential-detective-gone-bad Caterine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert) is lurking in the shadows trying to woo Tommy and Albert to her dark philosophy that nothing is related- we're all simply ruled by coincidence. Upon meeting Bernard and Vivian, the other characters find themselves suddenly coming to terms with their true natures. Even the FHM reading Brad, and the self-absorbed Dawn begin chipping away at their inner-selves. The detectives, sometimes just by being there and causing people take a look at themselves, are forcing stressful situations and moments of catharsis into these people's lives, before they are swept right back into the drama of daily existence. Or, as the film puts it- learning something meaningful about ourselves when something bad happens, and then forgetting it immediately afterwards. The direction is very pretty and the performances, particularly by Schwartzman, Law, and Wahlberg, are amazing. Culture critiquing aplenty, Russell has added upon themes of family dynamics, political responsibility, and personal inner demons found in his earlier films with help from the surreality of the story. Beyond all that the film is really funny. There is a hilarious sub-plot involving Shania Twain that is one of the sharpest send ups of popular culture that I've seen in recent memory. To enjoy this film you must embrace the fact that it doesn't always make sense. "I ♥ Huckabees" is like a philosophical yard sale, it lays everything out on the table, allowing the viewer to take away what they choose. It hits the mark where other, more preachy, philosophically high-brow movies (like Michel Gondry's "Human Nature") have fallen flat. What makes this movie even more insane than the premise of the film itself, is that a major studio even released it. Its soooooooo convoluted, but that's the point. If you can get past that, you'll see one of the most optimistic, funny, and thought-provoking movies of the year.

     » The Huckabees corporate website.
     » The Open Spaces website.
     » The official I ♥ Huckabees website.
     » The I ♥ Huckabees trailer.

Comments

I really really love the Huckabee's corporate website. This kind of satire just hits a real sweet-spot in my heart.
Open Spaces even more so, if they had just used a different picture of Schwartzman. It ruins the whole thing, because it's got this high-quality moody-actor look. A nice organizational mugshot would have worked so much better (the kind you actually see on NPO websites), something less slick and a little realistically flawed.
Still, the poems are worth the visit.

Posted by: Adam at October 19, 2004 8:28 PM

I thought the same thing. Even if they just made the Schwartzman pic black and white that would have made it better.

Posted by: Lindsey Baker at October 22, 2004 5:54 AM

It looks as though Huckabees will be opening in Myrtle Beach but is avoiding Charleston.

And look at the crazy locations they've planned in WV. They seem to be avoiding the most populated areas.

Posted by: benjamin at October 25, 2004 5:48 AM

Hahaha Funny. Movie and shit. Wait it's late 2005 now. Where have I been? You guys are so much cooler than me! haha!

Posted by: Aaron at August 22, 2005 3:30 AM
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