Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Mark Wahlberg, Jude Law
Director: David O. Russell
Running Time: 107 mins
I Heart Huckabees is an American film about a frustrated environmental activist who seeks the help of a pair of existential detectives to help him find the meaning of coincidences in his life. However, their deconstruction of his reality soon turns into a rabbit hole that pulls everyone around him into chaos.
A non-stop blast of philosophical whimsy, angst and satire, I Heart Huckabees is an electrifyingly entertaining watch from start to finish, with David O. Russell directing and co-writing one of the funniest and most thought-provoking films that I can remember seeing, all brought to life by an amazing ensemble cast that are more than up for the fun of deconstructing reality.
Almost a blend of the abstract oddness of Adaptation., the emotional angst of Garden State, and the zippy comic sensibilities of Rushmore, I Heart Huckabees does not stop for a single moment of a dizzyingly entertaining 107 minutes, with something for absolutely everyone to enjoy.
But if you’re looking for easy, lightweight comedy, then I Heart Huckabees might be a little on the overwhelming side. While David O. Russell directs the film with the bright energy of a classic Hollywood comedy, the dialogue is so indulgently philosophical that trying to watch this movie with your brain turned off would make it a totally incomprehensible mess.
However, from the very first moment, the brilliantly sharp screenplay hooks you with a slightly uncanny take on therapy and private investigators, which quickly devolves into a total deconstruction of the main character’s reality and your entire philosophical worldview.
Along with the movies I mentioned above, I Heart Huckabees has got a kind of Being John Malkovich or Stranger Than Fiction streak to it, with all the sensibilities of a star-studded Hollywood comedy, but with a story that has a whole lot more to say, and that will definitely have you thinking deep long after the credits have rolled.
The pace from the opening act is such that you’re sucked into this bizarre world where every movement, every action, every word and everything in between is micro-analysed as part of our main characters’ efforts to uncover the ‘meaning’ of everything, bringing an extra level of depth and clever satire to what could have been a crazy farce in its own right.
From the brilliantly neurotic Jason Schwartzman and Mark Wahlberg to the hilariously quirky Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman, and from the sleek cool kids in Jude Law and Naomi Watts to a classically scene-stealing performance from Isabelle Huppert, I Heart Huckabees is bathed with exhilarating talent at every moment, all of whom are more than capable of handling a really tough screenplay.
And it’s a tough screenplay because, while it has all the hallmarks of a fast-paced comedy that the actors have to live up to, the dialogue and characterisation is all there as part of a really captivating view of philosophy and existential debate, which actually gives a strikingly balanced and grounded perspective on some of life’s biggest questions.
Amidst all the laughs and chaos, I Heart Huckabees isn’t a film that’s exactly out there to persuade you of a certain existential idea, rather smashing all of the leading theories and themes together into one that makes for a really satisfying and still thought-provoking watch. It may not give the answers its main characters are looking for, but whatever your perspective on reality, the universe and the meaning of life, I Heart Huckabees has got it covered in brilliantly entertaining fashion.
And for a film that tackles such a tough subject, it’s such a delight to see it do so with a smile on its face. This movie could have been a painfully pretentious mess of philosophical gobbledy-gook, but David O. Russell’s brilliant direction, the sharp, witty screenplay and an absolutely amazing ensemble cast deliver a challenging story with ease, and that’s why I’m giving I Heart Huckabees an 8.9 overall.