In Defense of I Heart Huckabees.

Judge and Gavel

Every other week I’m going to defend a movie that did not get that much love,  but really should have.  These are not unheard of classics or lost gems, but I feel that there was something in these films that a lot of people just missed or didn’t much care about. This week I’m looking at David O Russell’s 2004 existential comedy I Heart Huckabees


I Heart Huckabees

Cast: Jason Schwatzman, Mark Wahlberg, Lily Tomlin
Writers:David O Russell, Jeff Baena
Director: David O Russell

Let me start off right away by stating that this review in no way shape or form is going to convince you to love this flick.  Especially if you are among the many that did not like or was confused by what it all meant.  If you are one of the very few that did enjoy this movie.  This review will not go into deeper insights that will help better explain all of the philosophy that is explored in this film.  I have not studied the subject before I saw the movie nor have I after I first watched it. Although to be fair, I do enjoy movies where characters speak on the subject like in “Waking Life“. I have just not been interested to study it myself. No, this review is mainly here to hopefully get you thinking on some of the ideas presented, but to also ignore them because in the end it’s all meaningless. No, this review is here to help you understand why I think that it is funny,but humor is subjective anyways.  So if I laugh and no one else does.  Is it still funny?  Maybe it’s the way it introduces new ideas into my head is the reason why I liked it.  Each character represents either someone I know or a part of my own psyche that I never though of before.  Hell, maybe I like watching it because I get to see Naomi Watts in a very sexy bikini.  With that great ass, long legs, and beautiful blonde hair. I can just imagine her coming over to my place and just when she opens the door, she begins removing all of her…….She’s just so damn…… OH!! You’re still here…..ummm…. Where was I again.
i-heart-huckabees-oOh yes I was explaining to you my love of Naomi Watts…NO,NO,NO!  I already wrote a post on her.  I’m here to defend why I love “I Heart Huckabees“.  I own the DVD and watch it at least once a year.  Sometimes twice because I really love the cast and director commentary.  The solo one by David O Russel is boring,and I don’t suggest anyone listen to that.  If you want to listen to a good commentary track.  I strongly suggest.. Geeze!!
What am I doing?  I’m getting side tracked again.  Maybe the best place to start is with the theories that are explained by each investigator.


Bernard and Vivian Jaffe(Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin) are existential detectives who believe that everything and everyone is connected.  Even though everyone is different.  We all share the same type of feelings of love ,desires, and fears.  Those feelings may occur to people at different times, but they are all still universal and we can share them.  Now Caterine Vauban(Issabelle Hubert) on the other hand has a much different brand of philosophy.She writes that if we can just stop and accept that we are no more important than let’s say a rock.  The so-called human dramas in our life will play less of a role and be less important.  For example, let’s say that tomorrow you lose your job and all of your possessions.  It seems like a huge deal,but in the whole grand scheme of things. It  really isn’t.  You can always get new things to replace your old ones. Maybe you’ll discover that you were never really happy with what you had and found a new positive outlook on life.  The rock doesn’t worry about such materialistic things, because it is comfortable with who it is and we should too. It’s ideas like this is why I keep coming back to this movie.  They never discuss these things in the actual story, but it does get me thinking about them.  These ideas from these characters are ones that I do agree with.  I fully believe that we are all connected in some ways. How else can you explain the same type of music being released or the same stories being used for movies.  Some may call that inspiration, but I think that it as  something more.  I also believe that even though we are all basically connected.  It doesn’t matter.  We are not that special.  Oh it’s true that through the years, humans have done some pretty impressive things. It won’t mean much when people look back at our society and see that… Shit I’m rambling again, ain’t I? Damn it.

I know in these reviews I usually have a paragraph where I explain the plot,but if I did I would lose half of you.  I’m sure I lost half of you when you read the title of this post. What the story is about means very little to me.  What I love best is that you have all of these different kinds of characters who all have very different agendas who all discover that in some ways they are very much connected,but that it is meaningless too. Albert(Jason Schwartzman) finds out that both him and his rival Brad Stand(Jude Law) are each alike in that they both want to be respected and loved and become frustrated when things don’t turn out the way they wanted.  Dawn(Naomi Watts) and Tommy(Mark Wahlberg) both feel that their whole lives have been a lie and that they have each worn a costume to help hide that fact.  Even Bernard, Vivian and Caterine learn to put both of their techniques together to help solve the case.

I realize that what I wrote is kind of all over the place, but in a way the movie does do the same thing too.  It tries to present these ideas in the context of a comedy movie,and if that works with you.  Great, but if not.  That’s just fine.   I know I made fun of movies like “Upstream Color“,and one could argue that this movie made even less sense.  I won’t argue with you on that, but I will say that this movie made me laugh more,and you wouldn’t win that discussion.  I will close by saying that if you are a fan of Director David O Russell because of “Silver Linings Playbook“or the upcoming “American Hustle“.  It would be cool to go back and check out his other works.


About The Vern

I love movies and I enjoy writing about them too. They both go pretty much hand in hand with each other and it's fun to discover new classics. I co host the podcasts The Film Pasture, ScreenTrax, and soon Cinema Recall. While also contributing reviews and articles to other great sites when I can.
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8 Responses to In Defense of I Heart Huckabees.

  1. jjames36 says:

    I am a fan of David O. Russell. A big one.

    Because of I Heart Huckabees.

    The Fighter is good to very good. Silver Linings Playbook is excellent and easily my favorite film of 2012. Three Kings is far from bad.

    But I Heart Huckabees was my first O. Russell exposure. Is it technically his best movie? Probably not. Narratively? Also probably not, but I love its quirky wittiness, its tangential character development, its almost, in places, Seinfeldian humor. Am I certain what it was actually about? Maybe not. But I also don’t think that was ever the point in I Heart Huckabees, and I so I don’t care.

    Which is to say . . . I completely agree with your defense. (Oh and I love your tangents here – in many ways you capture the movie well.

  2. The Vern says:

    Whew!!! Thank you James. Coming from a Teacher like yourself. This comment is extremely nice of you. My first David O Russell film was “Flirting With DIsaster” and then the rest. Can’t wait for American Hustle

  3. Dan Heaton says:

    I Heart Huckabees is so ridiculous, but it’s also great! I haven’t seen it in a while, but I have fond memories of it. Mark Wahlberg in particular is a lot of fun, which isn’t always the case. No arguments from me on this one, Vern.

  4. ninvoid99 says:

    I fucking love I Heart Huckabee’s. It’s so hilarious as I learned a lot about existentialism as well as how crazy things are. I love Mark Wahlberg’s performance in that film. Especially the moments where Naomi Watts starts to rebel against her image and Jude Law’s own revelation. We need existential detectives.

  5. The Vern says:

    I wish Naomi Watts was in more comedies. The odd thing is that she was filming 21 Grams at the same time she made this movie. To go from extreme drama to this was quite a challenge and she pulled it off very well. Agree with you 100% about existential detectives. Thanks for the comment

  6. I honestly think this is David O Russell’s best film. That said, I’ve not seen Silver Linings Playbook yet. What I love about Huckabees is it’s an actual full blown exploration of philosophical themes and the nature of need and outward appearances. Jude Law’s retelling of the same story over and over again was a smart way t gradually indicate a change in his character when he becomes fully aware that it is his only story and one he relies on to appear successful and popular. As much as I love this film though, I am so glad O Russell backed out of making Uncharted. That would have been so out of his comfort zone and a bit of a waste when he can produce films this good.

    • The Vern says:

      Silver Linings Playbook is really good. I hope you get a chance to see it. Yeah I agree Uncharted would have been a bad movie for him to make. Thank you so much for commenting

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