Off the Shelf…'I Heart Huckabees'

I Heart Huckabees is a odd-ball movie to say the least. With scenes that end just as abruptly as they begin the film is filled with heavy off-kilter humor. Simply stated, the comedy here is both unexpectedly subtle and rampantly uproarious. Certain scenes just amaze you as they were so off the wall that actually worked and mostly because you didn’t see it coming. Admittedly, it may be too out there and I agree it’s not for everyone. It is slow at times but Huckabees is still a film you can be happy to have seen just because the characters are so damn funny.

Fox Searchlight looks for different movies (hence their name) and this fits that criteria to a T. Just like sitting in Advanced Physics class, the plot can is really out there and will keep you as perplexed. In fact you’ll be just as perplexed as the main characters are just trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Like moths around a bulb this is one where the players are trying to move toward something but not really getting anywhere. To some that may appear sophisticated, to others (me included) that says that a rewrite was probably needed. There sure are a lot of quirky elements trying to take the title of “Most Quirky” that they take focus off the story. At times the wheels simply spin in place and you have a slightly painful time trying to care past a certain point.

A truly mis-matched but very delightful ensemble cast, everyone here gives their own uniqueness and this is just a high quality bunch of mixed nuts. Jason Schwartzman with his adolescent-like hesitancy and Wahlberg’s as the dimly lit bulb take the lead as the two mesh so well. Together they try to find the meaning behind things both personally and in the universe. What they find are zany surprises and more questions are raised and matters are further complicated by Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman (who is sporting his own hair believe it or not). They don’t really help the story along but just make things funny and bizarre. Also some will find some smiles with the likes of Richard Jenkins, a young Jonah Hill and fellow Three Kings alum Saïd Taghmaoui. Jude Law is down right annoying but as the film’s only antagonist so I guess he filled that part right out.

I’d call David O. Russell a genius for pulling a symphony of unlikely and dissimilar elements and making them stick so cohesively. He seems to be trying on shoes fit for Wes Anderson but does a better job of appealing to a broader audience. Just as off beat and awkward as the characters in the story, the film is a collection of weird events but it’s fun and it works. It does get a little bland after the humorous ways the main characters are introduced and the pace need more than a bit of quickening. Still any memory of the pretty meaningless plot fades, the humor and quasi-rich characters will stay with you for a while. Jude Law and Naomi Watts are characters that probably could have been either taken out or cut way back but hey, I guess in a story like this, everyone deserves and does get a somewhat fulfilling character arc.

Taking an almost unglamorous look at most actors known for their glamor, it’s a different approach but is a lot of fun. Nothing on screen is enviable and you probably wouldn’t want to meet these characters in real life. Even pretty Miss Huckabee would only be tolerable in real life just long enough to take her from back of the ambulance to the lobby of the looney bin. But that’s what works; it’s a tapestry of awkward and annoying and it’s beautifully sewn together. The film is quirky in all aspects and quirky is definitely an understatement. Psychedelic is more like it…just void of colors that’s all.

G-S-T RULING:

Watching the credits roll on Huckabees, you look back and realize you had so much fun with the characters you could care less about the story but you still didn’t want it to end. Not that anyone had vastly impressive character arcs, it’s just that everyone is strangely likable and you want more from them. Funny enough the same things I like about this movie are the things I don’t like in Wes Anderson movies (except for Fantastic Mr. Fox), so all you Anderson fans out there, consider us even.

Comments

  1. It is an oddball one, but I actually enjoyed this one. Though I think I remember the video of Lily Tomlin vs. O’Russell’s foul-mouthed war of words on the set a bit more 🙂

  2. Saw this a few years back. I somehow expected it to be kind of like a Wes Anderson kind of quirky comedy…but nope. Didn’t find it so. Its soo odd that I didn’t get it at all.

  3. I haven’t seen this one in a while but I liked it a lot when it first came out, mainly for the great cast and the excellent soundtrack from Jon Brion. I definitely agree that it’s often too quirky for its own good and the Jude Law/Naomi Watts characters could be trimmed down, though. And even though I initially saw it for Schwartzman, Tomlin, and Hoffman, I came out with a newfound appreciation for Mark Wahlberg, who is surprisingly awesome in this movie.

  4. Peter E. says

    Good choice here and nice write up. One of the most original comedies in years and I certainly had to include it in my own Best Comedies of the Decade list. So much more refreshing than half the comedy crap that is out there.

  5. @Ruth…I tell friends about this and while they don’t run right out and buy it after we watch it, they tell me days later, “I’d like to watch it again”

    @Addicted…Hey that’s OK. After all, film is subjective right?

    @Alex…Great call on Jon Brion! He really tied it all together. I had meant to add something about him in the write-up but forgot. Also agree with you on Wahlberg:)

    @Perer…Refreshing, hell yes and one that makes me laugh consistently. They’re odd laughs but they’re still solid.

  6. an existential comedy is a very unique idea for a comedy. Even though I did not fully understand where the movie was going. I loved going on the journey.

    • RidgeRacer4 says

      Agree with you there. It was more about the characters and less about the cohesive story – Schwartzman and Hoffman are so great in this. Thanks for the comment Vern!