By Celeste Meiffren
photo courtesy of FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES
Call it unique, call it funny, but don't call it quirky. Dustin Hoffman is one of the many big name actors who lent their hand to this project.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Lay Down. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Relax. Now, disassemble your reality. Go see "I § Huckabees."
David O. Russell's ("Three Kings") new film, "I § Huckabees," is one of very few comedies whose purpose is to make the audience feel less at ease about life and the human experience. It asks the big questions and it tries its best to provide some answers. But in the end, it just makes the world seem scarier -which is why I steer clear of philosophy classes.
The plot of "Huckabees" is fairly complex. There are so many layers and characters and storylines that it is almost impossible to describe without seeing it. But hell, I'll try anyway. Try to follow closely.
Albert (Jason Schwartzman) is an active and passionate environmentalist vexed by a coincidence he thinks is significant. His obsession drives him to become increasingly unsure of who he is, why he makes certain decisions and how he came to be where he is in life.
He elicits the help of existential detectives Vivian (Lily Tomlin) and Bernard (Dustin Hoffman) to help him make sense of the coincidence. The detectives force Albert to take his reality apart and rebuild it through the understanding that everything on earth is connected in one way or another.
Albert believes everything Vivian and Bernard tell him until he meets Tommy (Mark Wahlberg), another client of the detectives and a firefighter who is obsessed with petroleum.
Tommy is skeptical about the detectives' answers, and seeks the help of the philosopher Catherine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert). It is through this connection that Albert and Tommy spiral downward into nihilism. Is nihilism the answer? Is everything in the world connected or is everything meaningless? The film doesn't really say, but it nudges us in a particular direction.
Jude Law and Naomi Watts are also in this film, but discussing their roles would give away too much plot. I can say that even though Law has been in approximately one billion movies in the last six months, he has never taken on a role quite like this one.
Oh, did I mention that this movie is hilarious? Well, it is. Don't listen to people who tell you its quirky. Quirky is when your brother was obsessed with geckos. This movie has brilliant dialogue and comedic timing, and it does not slip into the quirky-is-funny mentality. It takes itself too seriously for that.
Jon Brion ("Punch-Drunk Love," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") provides another amazing original score. Sit through the credits to listen to his song "Knock Yourself Out" if you did not understand the film - it sums it up pretty nicely.
Overall, the acting is perfect, the script is intriguing, the subject is complex, and while some parts of the movie drag a bit, it is a satisfying experience. What more could anyone ask from a film?
Instead of taking Philosophy 101 or drugs, go watch "I § Huckabees." There'll be plenty of time to read Nietzsche, Hegel or Kant and smoke pot later.