I Heart Huckabees 2-Disc Special Edition(Fox Home Entertainment, 2.22.2005)
Pick an extra, any extra from the four hours of bonus material on the 2-disc I Heart Huckabees Special Edition (or skim the snazzy "collectible booklet") and within seconds someone -- writer/director David O. Russell, an actor, Charlie Rose, Spike Jonze, Jon Brion, Uma Thurman's dad -- will dispel the most common defense for this maddening philosophical screwball: that it's all just a joke, a satire on New Age navel gazing. If only. Few bad movies are as entertaining, as compelling, as heart-able as Huckabees but the innumerable delights that Russell bounces off the walls, the ideas floating through every scene and firing in every conversation only fill up the big empty space, where some kind of point should reside, with hot air.
And if the film were satire, that would be fine. But it's not and Russell points out repeatedly in his two commentary tracks, in his interviews, in his behind the scenes comments, how he truly believes in his characters' rants, how his studies of Zen and physics ground every flight of fancy in some kind of experiential reality. A fake infomercial for the film's existential detectives, Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman, doesn't even try to be funny: it's a serious sit-down with a pair of Ivy League intellectuals.
There's something vaguely cultish about how enthusiastic all these talented people are aboutt...well, "ideas" and "consciousness" and all sorts of ethereal 60s pot haze nothingness, as if the phrase "How am I not myself?" wouldn't ring empty even in a Matrix movie, as if characters realizing that they don't want to hurt each other could be profound anywhere but on daytime talk TV.
Still, you've got to admire the freakish audacity of the thing and marvel at the blissful performances: Jason Schwartzman as a passionate environmentalist finding ramshackle dignity in being lost, Jude Law and Naomi Watts, two shimmering consumer culture mannequins falling apart, Mark Wahlberg -- in his best performance since Boogie Nights -- verging on a nervous breakdown or a metaphysical revelation, and Tomlin and Hoffman, effortlessly comfortable together, endlessly amused with each other, trying to assemble these fragmented people into...a blanket.
On the flipside, I'm sure anyone who buys into this stuff will lose a weekend or two in the chatter and the 22 deleted scenes, fake public service announcements, and an unusually candid production doc. When I was done, I just hearted asprin. -- Joey Tayler