I Heart Huckabees (2004)
I Heart Huckabees is a film about everything and nothing all at once. Actually, that's a lie, it's not about that at all. Well, it is, sort of. It pretends to be about existentialism but really what it's about is satirizing philosophy and exposing how ludicrous the whole thing is. There are some who will watch this film and think, "Wow, that really makes you think," but they are missing the point. The point is to see past all of the words and the talk and find that everything I Heart Huckabees says is nothing.
Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman), the young director of an environmental organization called Open Spaces, hires a pair of existential detectives, Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin), to spy on himself. You see, he's looking for the meaning of it all, and he's had some strange coincidences lately that he thinks have some greater meaning, but then again, maybe they don't mean anything. But that's for the detectives to find out.
As the Jaffes investigate, they learn of a falling out between Albert and Brad Stand (Jude Law), an executive at Huckabees, "The Everything Store," who has his own plans for Open Spaces, which involve using Shania Twain as a poster girl. Soon, Brad has hired Bernard and Vivian to work on his own case, but Albert believes that he's just trying to push him out of his own coalition. Brad thinks that Albert has an infatuation with his girlfriend, Dawn (Naomi Watts), who is the poster girl for Huckabees.
Meanwhile, Albert is introduced to his "other" (a sort of existential buddy system), Tommy (Mark Wahlberg), who is also being investigated by the Jaffes, but rejects their ideas that everything has a meaning and we are all a part of the same fabric. Instead, Tommy has been following the teachings of Caterine (Isabelle Huppert), who argues that nothing has any meaning and this is all just pointless. Albert gets swept up in this battle of everything versus nothing and hilarity ensues.
It sounds confusing, but it's all a ruse, you see. The whole point that writer-director David O. Russell is trying to make is that beneath all of the talk about why are we here and what is the meaning of life, there is really no basis, or maybe there's a greater meaning. Whatever the answer is, we'll never really know, so talking about it is ridiculous to begin with. It's quite brilliant actually, because a whole lot is said, but then again, nothing is said. It seems that everybody's talking, but who is saying anything?
Huckabees is full of hilarious banter and slapstick moments, and all of the performances are dead-on. All of the actors play the parts straight, which makes it even funnier. In the middle of a conversation about the infinite, Tommy chimes in, "We're not in infinity, we're in the suburbs," and he means it. It's not funny to him, but it sure is to me. When Bernard says, "There's no such thing as nothing," he really means it, but it doesn't actually mean anything. And that pretty much sums up this film.
March 23, 2005