I HEART HUCKABEES
Review by Gordon Justesen
Dustin Hoffman, Isabelle Huppert, Jude Law, Jason Schwartzman, Lily Tomlin, Mark
Wahlberg, Naomi Watts
Director: David O. Russell
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1, Full Screen 1.33:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 106 Minutes
Release Date: February 22, 2005
glass between us. You can't
deal with my infinite nature, can you?"
is so not true. Wait, what does that even mean?"
Here is a film that
some people will get and be enthralled by, while others will be turned off by it
within the first few seconds. I Heart
Huckabees a bold and original offbeat comedy that taps into realms that aren't
normally explored in comedies, or any movie for that matter. Writer/director
David O. Russell, who helmed the brilliant and underrated Three
Kings, has created a piece that is very unique in a strange sort of way.
spectacular all star cast, the film is a multi character study focusing on a
group of characters who don't feel completely connected, but are about to
discover that in fact they, as well as every source of energy in life is
connected. The underlying philosophy in I
Heart Huckabees is the basic element that will try the patience of those
looking for something more mainstream. The screenplay by Russell and Jeff Baena
is so out there, it's a wonder that it didn't come from the mind of Charlie
The story opens
with frustrated activist Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman), who after a
string of bizarrely coincidental encounters with a complete stranger, consults a
pair of "existential detectives". The sleuths are actually a husband and wife
team, Vivian and Bernard Jaffe (Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman). Albert, as a
result from the coincidences, is searching for a possible connection of
everything in life, which the detectives happen to be experts in revealing.
am I not myself?"
In order to help
Albert, they will have to probe his every move, be it at home or work. His work
life is a total mess at the moment. He is head of an environmental activist
coalition called Open Spaces, which protests corporations from tearing down long
lasting property by corporations. Corporations like Huckabees Department Store,
who agrees to underwrite Albert's latest cause, only to betray him down the
This makes him
bitter enemies with arrogant Huckabees executive Brad Stand (Jude Law). Brad is
the epitome of a corporate sellout, whose only purpose in life, other than
money, is to get as many colleagues as possible to be amused by a past incident
where he pulled a fast one on country singer/Huckabees endorser Shania Twain.
Brad also happens to be involved with Dawn Campbell (Naomi Watts), the Huckabees
model/spokesperson, who is on the verge of a mental breakdown.
As the detectives
consistently follow Albert around, some unexpected occurrences happen. He
crosses paths with Tommy Corn (Mark Wahlberg) an extremely paranoid fireman who's
so conscious of wasting energy, that he rides a bike to a fire rather than a
fire truck. Tommy is a fellow client of the detectives, but happens to be
indulged in a book he's reading that claims what Vivian and Bernard are trying
to prove to be false.
am I not myself?"
As the bond between
them grows stronger, Tommy and Albert are lured by rival detective, and author,
Caterine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert). She wrote the book Tommy has been reading,
and according to her beliefs, nothing in life is connected, where as Vivian and
Bernard are trying to prove that everything exists in an infinite canvas. She
teaches techniques involving a rubber ball to the face, which helps in melting
everything away, and also demonstrates in a strange way the belief that human
drama can interfere if nothing matters in life.
If any of what I've
just explained has you scratching your head, it will make sense when you watch
the movie, and it deserves to be seen. The first highpoint is the marvelous
cast. Lily Tomlin and, especially, Dustin Hoffman are pitch- perfect as the
oddball detectives. Jason Schwartzman is just right as the confused and
conflicted Albert, and Naomi Watts gets a chance to reveal her comedic side, as
well as her beauty.
The standouts in
the cast, though, are Jude Law and Mark Wahlberg. Both actors make a rare delve
into a level of comic insanity that neither has done before. Wahlberg is
terrifically over the top as the slightly troubled, fuel hating fireman. And as
for Law, who I'm a fan of and who acquires an excellent American accent for the
film, the fact that an actor of his good looks and serious acting mode has a
full out breakdown at the end of the movie is very much a treat, for me at
am I not myself?"
With reviewing this
film and giving it a high rating, I can only hope that others will see I
Heart Huckabees as I see it. I already know that this film is built for a
limited type of audience, and will most likely turn off viewers who don't get
the story. But if it's a high dose of originality that you're looking for, look
no further than this purely existential
Fox has delivered
the visual goods once again with this phenomenal looking disc. The anamorphic
picture is alive and full of striking detail, elevating David O. Russell's
unique vision to even greater heights. Image quality is at a full high, with a
sharply crisp picture, with terrific use of colors to boot. And while the full
screen version is included, this is a true panoramic film, so I strongly advise
you to flip over the disc to the reverse side, or else a good portion of the
picture will be sorely lost.
Although this is
mostly a dialogue driven comedy, the movie has come equipped with some fantastic
technical moments, which make the 5.1 mix add up to a superb listen. Dialogue is
fantastically clear, Jon Brion's unique score to the film is delivered in strong
form, and such individual sequences, such as Albert lying in a body bag as part
of an experiment, provide some knockout surround sound quality. Amazingly done!
This 2-disc Special
Edition release is at a higher price range than the original disc, but believe
me; this loaded release is worth it. There's more bang for your buck.
Disc One includes
two commentary tracks; one with David O. Russell and the other with Russell and
cast members Jason Schwartzman, Mark Wahlberg and Naomi Watts.
Disc Two has even
more existential extras, starting with a fully in-depth Production Documentary
that chronicles the process of making such on odd piece, as well as Russell's
eccentric way of directing. There's a Charlie Rose show interview segment with
David O. Russell and stars Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin, 22 deleted/extended
scenes, an outtakes reel, a detective infomercial, a music video for Jon Brion's
song "Knock Yourself Out" as well as a look at the making of the video with
optional director commentary. Lastly, there are several PSAs/Commercials, and a
theatrical teaser and trailer for the movie.