I Heart Huckabees

Film

Comedy

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Time Out says

What?!? Say again?? As weird as anything penned by Charlie Kaufman, talkier than a Rohmer, more burned up over big zeitgeist shit than ‘Magnolia’, this feverish state-of-the-split-nation address finds Russell tossing everything that matters – and more – into the pot, and producing a pretty indigestible and very messy stew. If his heart’s in the right place, his brain is busy working overtime; trouble is, with so many ‘ideas’ squeezed into under two hours, the characters remain cartoon-thin, while good gags are even thinner on the ground.

The efforts of activist Albert (Jason Schwartzman) to save a local wetland from the expanding Huckabees shopping centre are undermined not only by three mysterious sightings of a tall African – which prompts him to hire ‘existential investigators’ Vivian and Bernard Jaffe (Lily Tomlin, Dustin Hoffman) – but by Brad Stand (Jude Law), a Huckabees junior exec gunning for a promotion with his efforts to provide the company with an environment-friendly image. The Jaffes’ unusually intrusive regime leads Albert to encounter Tommy (Mark Wahlberg), a volatile firefighter unsettled by ‘that big September thing’, who also has a lot of time for the Jaffes’ nihilist rival Caterine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert) and, it turns out, for Brad’s girl Dawn (Naomi Watts), who just happens to be Miss Huckabees…

Confused? It’s likely you will be. Some love this film, and it does deserve praise for its ambition, erudition, audacity and antipathy to certain aspects of Bush-era America. But the frenzied philosophising, forced wackiness, dense dialogue, packed narrative and full-on acting – Wahlberg, Watts, Tomlin and Hoffman nearly get it right, Schwartzman’s barely there, Huppert’s wasted, the rest middling – leave insufficient room for nuanced reaction or thought. As for laughter…
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