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I Heart Huckabees
15 I Heart Huckabees (2004)

updated 23 November 2004
reviewer's rating
2 out of 5
Reviewed by Stella Papamichael
average user rating
4 Star


Director
David O Russell
Writer
David O Russell
Jeff Baena
Stars
Jason Schwartzman
Mark Wahlberg
Jude Law
Lily Tomlin
Dustin Hoffman
Isabelle Huppert
Naomi Watts
Length
106 minutes
Distributor
Fox Searchlight
Cinema
26 November 2004
Country
USA
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Web Links
Official site


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Average star rating: 4.5 from 1413 votes

You know reality has taken a holiday when Mark Wahlberg delivers the outstanding performance in a film. Indeed he offers the only note of sincerity in David O Russell's glib existential comedy I Heart Huckabees, even outshining Dustin Hoffman as a babbling metaphysician and Jason Schwartzman who stars as an anguished environmentalist on a quest for ultimate truth. Although life's inherent absurdities throw up a few laughs, O Russell's efforts to prove the "interconnectedness" of everything never binds into a satisfying whole.

After a series of coincidences, angst-ridden Albert (Jason Schwartzman) hires "existential detectives" Bernard and Vivian (Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin) to unravel the meaning to his life. They sniff out a trail that leads to retail giant Huckabees and corporate go-getter Brad (Jude Law), who views Albert's campaign to preserve local marshland as a PR opportunity. However, Brad must confront his own issues when Bernard and Vivian brutally dissect his relationship with Huckabees spokesmodel Dawn (Naomi Watts).

"ZERO EMOTIONAL IMPACT"

Meanwhile, Albert continues on a downward spiral when he encounters Tommy (Mark Wahlberg), a fireman bewildered by the political climate post 9/11, and Caterine (Isabelle Huppert), a nihilistic femme fatale diametrically opposed to Bernard and Vivian's Zen philosophy.

Wahlberg's insistence on riding a bike to the scene of a fire (so he doesn't line the pockets of US oil barons) and a dinner scene where he infuriates his 'God-fearing' hosts are among a few genuinely funny and insightful moments. In contrast, most of the performances are too mannered, with Schwartzman being the worst offender while Hoffman and Tomlin perform a knockabout comedy act that only merits laughter of the canned variety. But the bigger problem lies in O Russell's philosophical (as opposed to psychological) approach to his characters which rips them apart with a psychotic detachment that culminates in zero emotional impact. Sadly, the only heart here is in the title.

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