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I heart Huckabees



2004
Directed by David O Russell 
Starring Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, Naomi Watts, Mark Wahlberg, Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin

It had been ten years since I'd seen Huckabees and while the film hasn't changed my reaction to it certainly has. When I first saw the film I loved it. I loved how the message of the film was fairly simple but all the distracting double speak and psycho-babble made the film feel aloof and unapproachable. I was in my mid-twenties and I guess I was attracted to aloof and unapproachable. Now those same qualities in this particular context are somewhat annoying and feel pretentious for the sake of being pretentious. Not that this is bad movie by any stretch of the imagination but rather a movie made for a younger man by a younger man.

Albert (Schwartzman) is having an existential crisis and hires a pair of existential detectives (Hoffman and Tomlin) to solve a coincidence. The detectives decide to pair up Albert with his "other" Tommy (Whalberg), to help him with his case. Tommy is a militant environmentalist/firefighter who plays a perfect contrast to Albert.

The film has moments that are laugh out loud funny to why the hell would they do that disturbing.
Most of the humor comes from how painful unaware the characters are of how they sound or appear and Mark Whalberg is especially gifted at saying imbecilic statements with pure conviction. I had forgotten how great he was in this movie. Most of the performances have a bit of a wink to them but not Whalberg, he plays the role completely straight and in turn steals scene after scene.

The film tells us that it is about nothingness vs meaning and the struggle between the two. Is everything connected and meaningful or is existence just chaos with no connections or meaning? This can be a frustrating subject to turn around in your mind while you explore your own existence and watching a film maker struggle with the same questions is twice as frustrating.

The moments of levity make the film easy to watch but the subject matter and tone didn't quite match up for me. With that being said I admire O Russell for making this film. It took guts to make such a unique film. While the film didn't hold up the way I expected I'm certainly glad it exists. I'm glad that I live in a world where thoughtful 20 somethings can discover this film and start to ask themselves the important questions.

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