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I [Heart] Huckabees

Starring Jude Law, Naomi Watts, Mark Wahlberg, Dustin Hoffman, Isabelle Huppert, Jason Schwartzman, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Dunn, Angela Grillo
Screenplay by David O. Russell and Jeff Baena
Directed by David O. Russell
website: www.foxsearchlight.com

IN SHORT: If you haven't been to college (and with it spent many late nights in deep discussion on "important" topics only a collegiate would care about) you're going to want to spend your cash elsewhere. But if you have (and know of what we speak), this is a very funny movie. [Rated R for language and a sex scene. 106 minutes]

That's the longest "in short" we've ever penned. Somehow that contradiction is totally appropriate . . . for a film which bases its humor in arguments about (ultimately) pointless philosophic discussions. Better to say, then, that "our brain hurts" and tell the grownups to get on with enjoying the belly laughs.

But before we begin, think of the usual "I Love [whatever]" campaign with the usual heart shaped graphic instead of the word "love". That heart symbol doesn't appear in html code, which is why we fall back on the bracketed title. Sure, we could embed a graphic but that would mess up your access time, so we haven't.

Watching I [Heart] Huckabees reminds us of a time 20+ years back when a silly cult called est raged, for a couple of years. Preaching an expansion of conscious understanding, est promulgated an entire language of gobbledygook, understandable only to those who shelled out hundreds of dollars for "training" and then patted all members on the back because they "got it. Those who, more wisely sent tens of thousands of dollars on a college education <vbg> know the feeling from middle of the night, heavy duty discussions of Very Important Issues, whether organically enhanced or not. That being said, without doubt I [Heart] Huckabees is the strangest film comedy we've ever planted for.

"I [Heart] Huckabees" is the ad slogan for a chain of department stores expanding at a rate that will soon put them into the mega-chain category. That expansion is fast destroying marshland and forests, all the concern of radical environmentalist Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman). Albert's devotion to his philosophical stance overrides almost all normal human communicative behaviors. How nice for Albert that he exists in a universe in which there is nothing normal about human communication! He does manage, as the Founder of the Open Spaces political-eco-group, to save the life of a rock from the corporate enemy, a chain store named Huckabees. The rock is inexcusably rude and ungrateful. Go figure.

Albert is ousted from control of the group by professional rival Brad Stand (Jude Law), a Huckabees exec who manages to ride the eco-train -- if Huckabees aids Open Spaces they seem friendly -- while overseeing the rabid physical expansion of the chain. With his life spiraling out of control, Albert seeks the aid of Existential Detectives Bernard and Vivian Jaffee (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin) because the only other philosophically adept person is a) in France and b) on an argumentative plain 180 degrees opposite from the Jaffee's. That would be Caterine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert), who will pop up, long after Albert forms bonds of friendship with a philosophically sensitive firefighter played by Mark Wahlberg. The lovely Naomi Watts wanders through, as the voice of the model who does the Huckabees television spots. Don't as us to even try to explain the thinking behind that one.

Off go everyone to very important battles about who the heck knows what. Does it sound ridiculous? Yep. Does it sound funny? No, but it is. Again we'll repeat the warning that you need to be old enough to understand (and laugh at) those Very Important mid-night conversations to laugh of the silliness of it all. Yes, it is silly, if for no other reason that all the main characters take their discussions so seriously.

Better for us to ask "Does the story make sense in any way that we can better explain it to y'all?" If it did, we would. We were too busy laughing to get it.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to I [Heart] Huckabees, he would have paid . . .

$7.50

For those who understand the joke, this is a very funny and tremendously entertaining intellectual <vbg> popcorn flick. Just like that tub of popcorn, and we prefer ours lathered in glop and heart killing salty to boot, it's enjoyed and forgotten just as quickly. That probably means we should slab it with a $4 rental rating but, in the greater scheme of things it is our site and review and we had a darn good time. Intellectually speaking, of course.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.