I Heart Huckabees

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I Heart Huckabees
Review (7.5/10)
(By Liam Cullin)

I like quirky movies. Original/unconventional ideas put on film in an interesting way with an equally as interesting cast. A good example? The Royal Tenenbaums comes to mind. Election is another. Now I can add I Heart Huckabees to that list. It's actually I Huckabees, but that's just another quirky thing about this movie.

It's so difficult to describe this movie, that I fear this review won't really do the movie the justice it deserves. But I've never backed down from a challenge before - so why start now? I'll give it a go. Jason Schwartzman plays Albert Markovski. He's the head of a small group called Open Spaces. Their cause? I guess they're tree huggers in the simplest terms. They try to save land so that greedy developers don't tear down parks to build strip malls and skyscrapers. Anyways, Albert has some questions about life. After running into the same guy three separate times, he becomes convinced there is some greater meaning to this coincidence. So, he seeks the help of existential detectives Jaffe & Jaffe (Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman). The method behind their madness is to prove that everything is connected and that everything matters. They start their research and begin to realize that besides Albert's possible coincidence, there is much more to this guy - notably his conflict with Brad Stand (Jude Law), a Huckabees (think Wal-Mart) exec. It seems Brad is trying to squeeze Albert out of Open Spaces so he can follow his own agenda. But, it doesn't stop there. When Brad learns of the existential detectives, he hires them himself as a means of further driving Albert insane. Soon, Albert loses confidence in his hired hands and defects to their nemesis, a woman who also believes everything is connected, but that there is no meaning - only pain and suffering. Throw in there a role for Mark Wahlberg as another client of the detectives and Naomi Watts as the face and voice of Huckabees (and also Brad's girlfriend) and the quirkiness continues. I could go more into their roles, but it'd be another 1000 words to try and explain it all. I've given you the tools here to get you started - you'll have to see the movie to see how it ends up.

Like I said, the movie is quirky - but it's not impossible to figure out. It's hard to describe on paper, but watching, it's not difficult to understand. In terms of the movie's tone, it was funny (kudos to Tomlin and Hoffman who nailed their roles), touching and, at the same time, a thinking man's movie. This isn't an easy task, so props to director David O. Russell for pulling it off. So many movies today are so easy to figure out and you can see the ending coming a mile away. But here, I could have never guessed the ending - and I found that I never really tried to guess. Instead, I just went along for the ride, which is probably why I enjoyed it that much more.

All around the performances were solid (although I didn't really buy Jude Law's American accent) and there were some interesting smaller roles and some decent cameos from Talia Shire (Schwartzman's real life mother playing his movie mom as well) and a great one involving Shania Twain, who is the center of one of the film's running plot lines about a tuna/chicken salad sandwich.

Also, I gotta mention the film's opening. It really caught me off guard, but in a funny way. I'll try not to give it away here, but think Jason Schwartzman channeling Jay from Jay and Silent Bob fame. Comical.

I'll say this. I Heart Huckabees is a really good movie. I'm just not convinced that it's a great movie. It's probably the best movie I'll see at this year's Toronto Film Festival in terms of my personal tastes. I remember Lost In Translation at last year's fest and being blown away - but I didn't get that feeling here. But, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this is one you'll very likely enjoy - just don't expect to see it on too many best-of lists at the end of the year.

Keyword : Jude Law, Naomi Watts, Eli, Lily Tomlin, Anne, Dustin Hoffman, You, Mark Wahlberg, David, Dev, Jason, Talia Shire, Ate, Connected, Ex, Face, Fame, Festival, Good, Heart, Here, I Heart Huckabees, Nailed, Out, Personal Taste, Red, Run, Running, RV, SIS, The Detective, The Ex, Up, War, FILM, Eric, Now, UEE, Cas, Ron, Tere, Tia, Land

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