This is a very silly title for a very silly film about very silly people with very silly ideas.

I will be straight with you. You might dislike it. If, after the first ten minutes, you say to yourself, "Wow, what a bunch of useless, pretentious crap these characters are spouting," you should just leave the theater. It does not get any "better". And it is not really a good date movie.

If, however, like me, you are a very silly person, you might say to yourself, "Wow, finally a film that addresses these issues I have always been deeply concerned with." I did not dislike it. I thought it was wonderful and hilarious.

"But," you're curious, "how do I know if I'm silly enough?" Well. The feeling you get after ingesting this movie is somewhat like the feeling you might get after watching Magnolia, Waking Life, and Rushmore all in a row. Those are some films that seem to annoy people deeply (though, again, I love them all, because nothing is ever weird enough for me). So, if they annoy you, then stay home from this one.

I am not going to describe the plot. I am not even going to try. Because the film is about causality and coincidence, to reveal what happens when is to rob it of its magic. If you want the philosophical hoohah to come to fruition, you must pay very close attention and connect all the dots that the characters cannot. Those characters are:

  • Jason Schwartzman as Albert, an environmetalist and bad poet. He is having a coincidence problem: A stranger keeps appearing wherever he goes.

  • Mark Wahlberg as Tommy, a father and firefighter. He is very concerned about petroleum.

  • Jude Law as Brad, a corporate executive. He is skilled at making people like him. Perhaps too skilled.

  • Naomi Watts as Dawn, a corporate spokesmodel. She is beginning to suspect that she is not very smart or happy.

  • Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin as existential detectives investigating the problems of all of the above. They are far too wise to make sense to anyone around them.

There are also several noteworthy actors in much smaller roles. Keep an eye out for them.

All of this springs from the warped mind of David O. Russell, who was one of my favorite American directors back when he had only made one feature film. He is still at the top of the list. Not only is this film beyond unique, it is beyond unpredictable. The ads are labeling it an "existential comedy" (and then showing you only slapstick and no dialogue), but I think "philosophical farce" is a better description.

The DP is Peter Deming, who's got lots of wackiness on his reel already, with the likes of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Evil Dead 2 and David Lynch. However, his response to this ideological absurdity is to shoot it totally straight, with normal lenses and lots of cool dull blues and grays. It makes everything seem even weirder.

The score is by composer Jon Brion, who also did Punch-Drunk Love and Eternal Sunshine. He seems to have a sad yet whimsical monopoly on all the movies about stubbly introverted white guys. If it were not an excellent feel, I would mind.

And the last thing I'll mention is another secret the TV spots are hiding from you: This picture has some of the coolest, trippiest effects sequences since Fear and Loathing. For a few seconds, the energy of imagination extends outward to engulf the universe. Till all are one.

Film: I ♥ Huckabees
Year: 2004
Rating: 2/5
Summary: A promising start, but ultimately a letdown.

(This write-up contains spoilers.)

Judging by the first few minutes, I Love Huckabees looked like it was going to be similar to a Philip K. Dick novel or a Charlie Kaufman film. It promised to unravel layers of reality and shock the viewer with what lay underneath.

The problem is, I Love Huckabees doesn't really have enough plot or even intrigue to sustain a full length film. Instead of questioning reality and posing awe inspiring questions about the nature of the universe, it presents the viewer with two characters representing the balance of the all-encompassing connections of the universe, and a third character representing a nihilist. These personifications of philosophical viewpoints do little more than try to sway the regular characters to their way of thinking, with exaggerated results.

Even accepting the film as an analogy (which isn't easy to do when movies such as The Princess Bride can be both an interesting analogy and a gripping literal story at the same time), it has such a cliched ending that I was reminded of several episodes of South Park, not to mention Demolition Man: after the conflict between the two opposing factions reaches its climax, everyone suddenly realises that the best path lies between their two extremes, in the middle ground. Well, I've sure learned something today.

Although it's kind of interesting to see what a film written by a philosophy student would look like, I Love Huckabees falls short of having anything truly profound to say that can't be picked up in a beginner's guide to philosophy. If you really wanted to hear philosophical ideas without having to read a book, you'd probably be better off watching Waking Life, which has no pretense of a plot or story.

Having said all that, watching this refreshingly original film is still preferable to revisiting the well trodden path of endless mind numbing sequels, so although I didn't really find it fulfilling, I think it's great that Hollywood is still occasionally trying out new ideas. Just because this film didn't work out so well, doesn't mean they should give up. If the screenplay writers learn as much about storytelling as they know about the meaning of life, they might make a good film yet.

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