I Heart Huckabees markets itself as a movie on existentialism,
and this is true. However, the film is less about persuading the
filmgoer to think philosophically than it is about commenting on
those who do. In the meantime, writer/director David O.
Russell has a fine time setting up absurd and often humorous
sequences that characterize the entire movie.
Seven main characters populate the film, and they are so eccentric
in and of themselves that, though the story becomes increasingly
bizarre as it progresses, somehow we believe that things like this
could perhaps happen to these people. First there is Albert Markovski
(Schwartzmann), founder of the local chapter of
the Open Spaces Coalition, an organization that attempts to preserve
the environment for future generations. His latest accomplishment
is saving a plot of marshland, or more specifically, a rock in the
middle of that marsh. But ignore that for a moment, because that’s
not why he visits the office of Jaffe & Jaffe, existential detectives.
Here Albert is entreating Vivian and Bernard Jaffe (Tomlin
and Hoffman) to figure out his coincidence—why
he keeps bumping into an African man—and what it all means.
Vivian and Albert sit in chairs facing each other. Vivian asks
if Albert is ready for the truth of reality, because once she tells
him, it will dismantle the world as we know it. Matrix
flashback, anyone? Yet the existential world is drastically different
from the machine sci-fi world. Bernard describes it as a big blanket
of truth—a big picture where everyone and everything is connected,
even the marsh.
Within the next few days, Albert’s life becomes intertwined
with the lives of Tommy Corn (Wahlberg), a firefighter;
Brad Stand (Law), the marketing executive of Huckabees
Corporation; and Dawn Campbell (Watts), a Huckabees
model and Brad’s girlfriend. Incidentally, but not coincidentally,
all three are also clients of Jaffe & Jaffe.
I Heart Huckabees is one of those movies that has such
a convoluted plot that people who ask “So, what is it about?”
are met either with blank stares or a 10-minute rambling explanation.
Case in point: I Heart Huckabees doesn’t have just
one official website, it has four. One is the Open
Spaces website that centers on Albert and his vision. The second
is the Jaffe & Jaffe website.
A third is seemingly the corporate
website of the retail chain Huckabees. Finally there is Tommy
Corn’s blog, filled with his questions on the meaning
of life as well as his views against petroleum use.
There is a lot of talking in this movie, some of it very witty.
The interplay between characters and comedic timing are like watching
a ridiculous argument—pitiful and funny at the same time.
However, none of it is very thought-provoking, which is a shame
because of the film’s rich subject of existentialism, nihilism,
and the meaning of life. Somehow in the midst of all the comedy,
a joke has been made out of philosophical questioning, and the filmgoer
becomes an outsider detached from wrestling with the big questions.