I ♥ Huckabees (2004)

I ♥ Huckabees (2004) – So recently, I have been showing my girlfriend a lot of my favorite movies. By and large these are cinematic masterpieces. I suppose one or two would be trashier cult classics of which I am a cult member. You may even find that oddball movie that I and I alone love (and since we worked our way through the first two Alien movies I imagine we’ll soon enough get to the third one which certainly fits that description). With I Huckabees you have a film that doesn’t quite fit into any of those categories. It’s a movie I love because it always makes me feel good. Consequently, it is a movie I watch a lot when I am feeling down. It picks me up. A lot of that has to do with it espousing a fairly similar philosophy to the one I try to live my life around. But where does that leave everyone else? (We had other things to do so oddly enough I never got my girlfriend’s opinion of it, which is something I’ve rather eagerly done with the other movies we’ve watched… I shall have to ask her tomorrow. Check the comments!) You can’t judge a movie solely on the “it makes Jake feel good!” scale. (…or can you?) So what, you may ask, is this movie even about?

Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman) is an environmentalist with the Open Spaces Coalition. He works, with debatable efficacy, to fight suburban sprawl and preserve whatever nature he can. He has also been seeing a friendly African guy (Ger Duany) on three separate unrelated occasions. He wonders if this coincidence has meaning. This leads him (via a business card he discovered in a borrowed jacket) to “existential detectives” Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin). The Jaffes require unimpeded access to Albert’s life to solve the meaning of Albert’s coincidence and, by extension, existence. This comes at a tricky time for Albert as he’s engaged in a conflict with Brad Stand (Jude Law), a representative of a massive store chain called Huckabees that is guilty of the exact kind of sprawl Albert fights. Brad is wrestling control of the Coalition away from Albert with a big fancy fundraiser featuring Shania Twain.  The Jaffes try to help Albert by pairing him up with fellow meaning-seeker Tommy (Mark Walhburg), a firefighter militantly opposed to petroleum usage. But Tommy’s being “corrupted” by the writings of the Jaffes’ rival Catarine Vauban (Isabelle Hupert). Also Brad is looking into the detectives, with unforeseen consequences for his spokesmodel girlfriend Dawn (Naomie Watts).

I Huckabees is a movie that is very funny for the majority of its running time. However it’s far more about ideas than about the story. That is destined to turn a lot of people off. Also it might get it a “pretentious” label from some folk. I disagree with that, but “pretentious” is also a label that’s been lobbed at me before… and not always without justification. I suppose people who are really into philosophy might even complain that it doesn’t go deep enough. It seems unrealistic to me to expect that a movie would have all the answers, but it does talk heavily about the interconnectivity of everyone and everything which is something I believe in wholeheartedly. So this movie pretty much has me there. The performances are all on point and the writing is funny. I know that with The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle, David O. Russell has finally broken through to the mainstream. I enjoy those movies quite a bit and am happy he’s successful. At the same kind, I miss the weirdo who made this movie and Three Kings. I’m hoping that his more recent commercial success will buy him enough credit to let that weirdness out again.

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