HPPUB MOVIE REVIEW of I (Heart) Huckabees

 

Title:  I Heart Huckabees   (or I (Heart) Huckabees) or I Love Huckabees)

Release Date:  2004

Nationality and Language: USA/UK/Germany, English

Running time: 105 minutes

MPAA Rating: R

Distributor and Production Company:  Fox Searchlight Pictures / Qwerty

Director; Writer: David O. Russell (with Jeff Baena)

Producer:

Cast:   Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, Dustin Hoffman, Isabelle Huppert, Lily Tomlin, Marky Mark Wahlberg, Naomi Watts

Technical: Panavision 2.3

Relevance to HPPUB site:  Sales culture and artistic temperament

Review:

 

Okay, this is another expansive widescreen satire that gives me the expectations of another “Garden State.” Instead, there is a lot of wordy, discursive philosophical dialogue that really isn’t funny and that sounds, at least with Bernard (Dustin Hoffman) sounds like it came from “What the Bleep?”  It preaches and informs, but it doesn’t come from the characters.

 

But let’s get to the setup. A likeable, virile young man Albert (Jason Schwartzman) hires an existential detective agency headed by Caterine (Isabelle Huppert) to get to the bottom of his being followed around by this tall goon. Well, there’s more. He is the environmentalist, who makes a deal with the devil, the evil empire Huckabees (real Wal-Mart) to fund his Open Space Coalition. Well, that will set up some confrontations that would set him up to be defrocked, but it never quite comes off. There are some interesting conversations, such as when salesman (sorry, sales executive!) Brad Stand compares himself to the “sensitive artist” Albert, or later when Brad speculates on why having kids is the main measure of performance in straight American society. Other characters, like the fireman (Marky Mark Wahlberg) enter in, spouting more philosophy that one can believe.

 

Having said all that, there is a lot of technical stuff to note. First is Jude Law’s acting, so Americanized and slick that you don’t know he is British.  There are the dreams and fantasies broken up into pixels (even one of Jude Law as a bosomy “woman”, done  with CGI to be sure, or another one of multiple amputations). Schwartzman really looks good most of the time, but there are outright technical blunders in his direction, as the area around his neck or upper chest seems partially shaved in some scenes (as when he meets Caterine) but not others. You wonder if there is some erotic payoff coming that will make men squirm (maybe some heterosexual very dirty dancing, or some Motel Hell), but the best is a couple of sexual encounters, one of which involves falling in the mud (The Long, Long Trailer) and then his hairy thighs.

 

Satire is hard to write without seeming contrived, and with this theme some layered drama might have worked better.
 

Related reviews: Garden State, What the Bleep, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

 

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