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Overall Rating

Awesome: 31.71%
Worth A Look44.72%
Average: 0.81%
Pretty Bad: 17.07%
Total Crap: 5.69%

11 reviews, 57 user ratings

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I Heart Huckabees
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by Jason Whyte

"How are YOU not yourself?"
5 stars

Although I have only seen two of David O. Russell's films, the Kuwait gold-heist film "Three Kings" and the hilarious "Flirting With Disaster" (the other, unseen by me, is his breakout 1994 film "Spanking The Monkey"), I am a fan of the filmmaker. Both "Kings" and "Disaster" are from a director who has worked as hard as he could to provide the viewer with his vision, uncompromised. I have heard the rumored stories about his troubles with Warner on "Three Kings" and some say he is difficult to work with, but you know what? The guy makes great film, and that is what matters in the end.

"I Heart Huckabee's" may very well be his best vision, a step down in techinal bravado of "Three Kings" but more along the lines of current working, visionary directors like Paul Thomas Anderson, David Gordon Green and Wes Anderson who make exactly what they want and make it accessible to an audience. This is a beautiful, thought-provoking film that asks about the lives we lead and the paths that we choose to go down.

The core of this film is existentialism, that pesky philosophy that the dictionary refes to as "A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts." The film's central character, Albert (Jason Schwartzman) is convinced that a doorman he keeps seeing in random situations means something. He turns to Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin), two existential dectectives who find out everything in their clients' lives to help probe into the meaning of everything that is around us. Albert hopes that working with the detetctives will shed some light into his existence. One of the processes involves the subject stepping into a zippered body-bag to shut off all outside connections. (Wouldn't just closing your eyes or getting an eye-mask work? Who knows...)

Bernard and Vivian begin to follow Albert around in his daily activities (part of their "work") and beginning to meet the characters surrounding him. His biggest conflict is Brad Stand (Jude Law), a corporate executive at retail-giant Huckabee's. As Bernard and Vivian investigate Brad, he hires them to investigate his life as well that includes the life of his girlfriend Dawn (Naomi Watts). Albert, meanwhile, is infuriated by Brad's hiring of the same detective and turns to Tommy (Mark Wahlberg) who is doing a lot of soul-searching himself, which then leads to Caterine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert) who is a philosopher of the exact opposite of Bernard and Vivian's ways. This sets off a match of extreme opposing of stubborn parties who both are hell-bent on proving that they are right in their thinking.

What's amazing about this film is that both sides are really right, and both are flawed in thinking that their philosophies automatically discount everyone else's opinion. No one really has the answers to these important questions, but we spend countless hours pondering the very answers. We all die, for example, but no matter what a fortune teller or aged philosopher may tell you, we have no idea where we actually go afterwards.

Russell brilliantly pulls all of this together in such a unique and fascinating way, blending reality and fantasy images and using visual effects to tell the story of these multi-faceted characters. The story takes place in an area of Los Angeles that looks like the San Fernando Valley, but that doesn't really matter. This could take place in any city where its inhabitants question everything. It also helps that the casting of this film is inspired. It is rare to see the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Jason Schwartzman, Naomi Watts, Jude Law and Isabelle Huppert all share screen time as characters, and not as star billing. The acting is so strong here that we forget the actors who are playing them and focus on who they are and why they are.

"I Heart Huckabees" is rewarding in its philosophies, but it's also a brutally funny, original and well-acted film, and it contains a music score by Jon Brion ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Magnolia") that is just another addition to his fantastic soundtrack resume. And it all comes from a director who knows how to tell a great story, which is what we need more of in this day and age. This is one of the year's best films.

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originally posted: 10/02/04 08:45:09
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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
6/27/11 DR A hugely misguided philosophy that fails to satisfy itself within its running time. 1 stars
5/30/10 Roy Unsatisfing and basically random, fails as drama since people don't act like this. 2 stars
3/20/10 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
7/10/06 Marty watch it as a parody and it's a lot of absurd fun 5 stars
7/04/06 Ashley Hinz Absolute Trash, I could not finish it. Took it out after less than 10 minutes. 1 stars
3/11/06 Tanya very good very funny 5 stars
2/21/06 Agent Sands Hilarious. Hilarious. Hilarious. Hilarious. Hilarious. 5 stars
2/01/06 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
12/13/05 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
10/27/05 Lizz Brilliant timing, unprentious sophistication, fun! 5 stars
9/05/05 Mike Simon got it. This film = read everything as fast as possible. Understand? Of course not! 1 stars
8/19/05 ES I'll second Simon's decree 2 stars
7/25/05 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
5/25/05 Jake Funny, Bizarre, and brilliant. 5 stars
5/16/05 Indrid Cold Funny, thought-provoking but uneven in tone and pacing. 4 stars
5/14/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble One day will be a cult hit like Harold & Maude. 4 stars
5/07/05 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
4/25/05 OverTheRainbow It's movie that makes you think; by the third time, maybe you will get it 4 stars
3/26/05 hannaho Hilariously transcendental! 4 stars
3/15/05 steandric with naomi watts in a brilliant comic role, nothing can go wrong with this film. 5 stars
3/05/05 chris. warning: you might have to actually use your BRAIN when you watch this movie. not for all! 5 stars
3/05/05 Matthew Studley Worthless piece of garbage. Don't mistake lack of talent for genius. 1 stars
2/26/05 strangelows pretentious, self-indulgent and rather boring crap 2 stars
12/27/04 Steve I was very bored by this movie, despite quality cinemetography. 2 stars
12/20/04 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
12/06/04 Jimmy Kustes I second the Jon Brion comment 5 stars
11/10/04 maximus Really funny but odd 4 stars
11/09/04 scooter The Soundtrack by Jon Brion is awesome! 5 stars
11/07/04 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
10/28/04 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
10/26/04 ajay funny at parts, but it was a little too abstract for me. 2 stars
10/25/04 Jay Finally a movie worth the $9.00 admission price! 5 stars
10/25/04 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
10/13/04 Sherry original, funny, terrific cast, but a lot of work. 4 stars
10/13/04 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
10/08/04 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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