"I Heart Huckabees"
Directed by David O. Russell.
Written by David O. Russell and Jeff Baena.
Starring Jason Schwartzman, Dustin Hoffman, Jude Law and Naomi
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 10/15/04
Well, it's official--I learned today that I
really don't understand sheer genius when I see it unless it's
wrapped in a raw slice of pork.
"I Heart Huckabees", another in the long
line of "quirky independent films" that has about a half-dozen stars
that have been the headliners in other flicks in the last couple of
years, put me to fucking sleep about four times, because there was
almost no semblance of a plot worth following for more than about
five minutes. While the film is entertaining in its first hour
as we follow Albert (Jason Schwartzman, who's only really done
"Rushmore") around his fairly messed-up situation as the head of an
activist group, when the film gravitates away from the main plot and
into other territory with a slew of other characters, I gravitated
I use the word "plot" above quite loosely,
because this is more a collection of scenes than anything I would
call a film, since the existentialist theme of the work being done
by the movie's lead detectives, Vivian (Lily Tomlin) and Bernard
(Dustin Hoffman), is transferable to all of the stories of the lead
characters, which include Albert, Brad (Jude Law), his
girlfriend/company model Dawn (Naomi Watts), and a firefighter named
Tommy (Mark Wahlberg). When the movie is funny early on, it's
really funny, thanks to the great energy provided by Wahlberg (as a
near-psycho) and Schwartzman, who does just enough reacting to make
things work here. Schwartzman seems to always have just the
right facial expression or verbal line of confusion required to make
his scenes work. My favorite number was a bit where Albert and
Tommy go to visit the family of a large African man that Albert
keeps running into while in public; man, Wahlberg was damned near
winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor during that scene, it
was so funny.
But, at a crucial point later in the movie,
the focus of the film shifts from Albert to...every character in the
movie up to that point, plus another existential detective (Isabelle
Huppert), who seems to enjoy frolicking...in the mud. At this
point, I thought "I Heart Huckabees" went right down the shitter.
Nothing made any sense to me at this point, and I began to go in and
out of slumber as I was bored by the Brad investigation being done
by the lead detectives. Then, the flick just kind of ends.
Now, as a history, I loved "Three Kings",
also directed by "I Heart Huckabees" director David O. Russell; just
a great movie from start to finish, with solid comedy, solid
deep-thought-type drama, solid action...just a great movie.
"Spanking the Monkey" was not a fave of mine, although my boy Stefan
"Stefdog" Prelog loved that movie about a guy that likes to...well,
you know. "Huckabees" reminded me of "Monkey" because both
films are occasionally so weird that you don't know what to do, and
I think that's not a good thing. Given that, I think that "Huckabees"
fits squarely in the middle for me; the offbeat comedy, kind of like
the form of laughs from
is great when it's on...but when it's not funny, "Huckabees" tries
to shoot for a deeper form of meaning and understanding, and I was
just tapping my foot waiting for something interesting to happen.
And, I don't remember not liking Jude Law in a movie before "Huckabees";
to make Jude Law uninteresting is a feat unto itself.
The hype machine on this film has been huge,
but I was ultimately disappointed by "I Heart Huckabees" because it
just didn't make any sense to me. If I was a bit more of a
genius, maybe I wouldn't have these problems!!
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard