Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I Heart Huckabees Heartfelt But Frustrating

I Heart Huckabees was my Tuesday afternoon movie. Stars Jason Schwartzman, Isabelle Huppert, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Jude Law, Mark Wahlberg, and Naomi Watts. Written by David O. Russell and Jeff Baena, directed by David O. Russell.

Yahoo! Plot Summary:
This ensemble comedy is about a married couple, the Jaffes (Hoffman, Tomlin), who work as detectives, helping people solve existential crises in their lives. For those not familiar with the philosophy-based term of "existential crisis", some examples of such a crises would be a "mid-life crisis", a "what am I doing with my life?" sort of hang up, "my life has been a mistake", "my whole life is a joke", etc. Their first client in this movie is Albert Markovski (Schwartzman), who is experiencing angst because of his position at Huckabee's, a popular chain of retail stores. Investigating his workplace, the Jaffes take on one of Albert's coworkers, Brad Stand (Law) as a client as well, which leads them to investigate his girlfriend, Dawn Campbell (Watts), who is the spokesmodel in the Huckabees TV commercials. Meanwhile, Albert teams up with an existential firefighter (Wahlberg) and a French radical (Huppert) out of frustration with the idea that the Jaffes are helping the very man who seems to be part of Albert's existential crisis.
Although billed as an existential comedy, this movie is really just existentially confusing. It gets caught up in its own philosophy, repeatedly tripping over itself in its quest to say something that it doesn't get across. As much as Sideways (review) tackles weighty, deep subjects in an easy to follow, calm, collected manner, I Heart Huckabees does not. The movie can be boiled down to the question: Is there meaning to life or not? And it doesn't provide any answer or insite in its rushed attempt to tackle the topic.

Can you feel me tripping over my own words in an attempt to explain why this movie just didn't quite work as it meant to? For crying out loud, I almost fell asleep in the middle!

I can't say I truly enjoyed this movie because it really didn't say anything or go anywhere. You may feel like life has a purpose, an underlying connection, or you may feel like life is random and chaotic, meaningless. That's it. To produce a confusing movie that neither directly confronts the interrelation between these concepts nor indirectly suggests any conclusion regarding them is an exercise in futility, much as watching it is.

I'm really not trying to say "don't go see it." Rather, I want you to understand that I'm honestly frustrated with the film and pretty confused about its goals and direction (or lack thereof). It was far too existential for its own good. That's about the punchline.

ALAN'S MOVIE RATING: Maybe Theater-Worthy, maybe Rental-Worthy, maybe not.