I Heart I Heart Huckabees
David O. Russel’s I Heart Huckabees is a two-hour investigation of the meaning of life and everyone’s connection to each other. Heavy? No. Not really.
In this self-proclaimed “existential comedy,” Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman) enlists the help of “existential detectives” Vivian and Bernard Jaffe (Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman) to figure out why he has coincidentally met a strange African man on three separate occasions.
To his dismay, in addition to unlocking the mystery of these encounters, Vivian and Bernard force Albert to face his fears and find out who he truly is.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of “I Heart Huckabees” is the fact that it is meant to investigate everyday human existence but fails to portray a believable character.
Instead of well-rounded sympathetic characters we are given caricatures and people with invented jobs. (What is an existential detective anyway?)
On the other hand, for an existential movie, there are a lot of gags, helping to minimize the effects of too much philosophizing. Further, the intellectual messages are conveyed in fairly easy to grasp chunks, with the aid of special effects.
And when a possible explanation for the meaning of existence is challenged, illustrative scenes substitute for the point-counterpoint method of normal debate.
I Heart Huckabees was effective in moving Philosophy from the printed page to the big screen, reminding us that thinking does not have to be boring or overbearing.
Ultimately the crux of the philosophical message might seem unsatisfying. But for those of us who prefer to exist and think somewhere between our Being and Nothingness and our Tao of Pooh, I Heart Huckabees is a sufficiently light movie that does not fail to make us consider our relationship with the rest of humanity.