Friday, August 7, 2009
I Heart Huckabees (2004)
By Eric Jessen 8/609
I Heart Huckabees is bawdy slapstick and unrelenting farce mixed with entry level existentialism. It's full of wacky, hilarious little bits like when Lily Tomlin asks Jason Schwartzman, “Have you ever transcended time and space?” and he responds “Yes. No. Time not space. No I don't know what your talking about.” I Heart Huckabees throws philosophical gibberish about “the big everything” and “everything is the same even if it's different” against the wall hoping they stick but fortunately never taking any of it seriously. It's like watching the Three Stooges or the Marx brothers babble Nietzsche. The balloon to the face, muddy sex, stupefying comedy made me laugh and chuckle but left me mostly bewildered (sometimes I scrunched my lip and brow in a “whatchu talkin' bout Willis” facial expression).
The story progresses like a mad sprint, hard to follow, full of holes, leaving the details and the ideas in the dust ending with a celebratory “I don't get it” and all the pretty couples united. Describing it will take a first class effort on my part.
Okay.....there's this guy, Albert (Jason Schwartzman), who is an environmentalist, or at least he talks a lot about saving a marsh and he once planted a tree in the middle of a parking lot. He's also a poet and a sentimental fool writing about his favorite rock with the timeless line “you rock. Rock.” He is confused, very confused and semi-seriously frustrated. So he goes to see the “Existential Detectives” because......he's depressed, confused, frustrated? No. Because he wonders about these coincidences in his life, that involve a tall African doorman and a Jessica Lange photograph and he wants to know what it all means.
Detectives Bernard (Dustin Hoffman) and Vivian (Lily Tomlin) are hired, pro bono, to do a full scale, 24-hour study of Albert's “crisis”. They do complete surveillance (“even in the bathroom”) and wiretapping. They follow him around, hide conspicuously in bushes or outside windows, peeking at Albert, taking notes, looking silly. The ultimate reward, so they say, is deep, trippy total self awareness where “everything you could ever want or be you have and are,” and things magically come apart in little 2D squares, relieving you of stress and the feeling of responsibility. And I guess then, for Albert, happiness.
As the investigation begins Albert starts to unravel, tearing apart the world and his arch nemesis Brad Stand (Jude Law) with a machete while in his happy place. Bernard and Vivian decide to introduce Albert to his existential support group buddy, Tommy (played very well by Mark Wahlberg), so they'll both have a breakthrough. Tommy is struggling with the temptation of the dark side, nihilism, where everything is nothing, and nothing matters. The rest of the movie is a strange journey of weird humor and a shouting match between nihilism and existentialism in an effort to get Albert to reach “who cares” bliss.
I Heart Huckabees has philosophical ramblings with little depth and base level humor but a wonderful air of whimsy. When I think of I Heart Huckabees I have a brain freeze. There's an infinite void of confusion, and all I can remember from watching were my many laughs.