9 oct. 2014

My Review: I Heart Huckabees (5/10)

"The universe is an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere."

Having seen David O. Russell's last three films which amassed him several Oscar nominations, I wanted to go back to one of his earlier projects that I missed. I had heard mix reviews about I Heart Huckabees, but I went into it with high expectations considering his latest films blew me away. I was really disappointed with the film despite the talented cast because the premise didn't appeal to me and the comedy didn't work for me either. The film centers on philosophical elements such as existentialism and nihilism, but it is treated in such a way that it seemed as if they were making fun of these theories without actually being funny. It isn't as deep as it is trying to be and despite the style that David O. Russell brings to the film it never managed to engage me. It's as if Russell simply mixed all these philosophical ideas in a blender and the result was I Heart Huckabees. The cast made the film a bit more tolerable considering they all bring their unique charisma, but the story simply didn't work for me. It was an annoying and frustrating experience where some of the comedic moments felt forced and unauthentic. Despite trying to be unique and quirky it was a forgettable experience and by far my least favorite film from David O. Russell. The cast put a lot of energy into the film, but it seems to be directed all over the place and the result was a rather pointless and uneven movie. I can see why some people fell in love with this existential comedy, but it simply didn't appeal to me due to the absurd premise. It is no secret that I'm not a big fan of surreal films, but I have enjoyed some when they at least have some narrative coherence. It wasn't the case with I Heart Huckabees.

The cast in this movie is extremely talented, and we have come to expect this coming from a Russell film because every actor in Hollywood is lining up to work with him. Jason Schwartzman is the sort of actor who is perfect for these quirky films. He is at his best working with Wes Anderson, and here he seems to be playing one of his characters. His chemistry with Jude Law and Mark Wahlberg was great. Perhaps the reason why I didn't hate this film was due to their performance because they elevated the material for me. Wahlberg had the funniest scenes and the only time I laughed in this film was with several of his anger outbursts. Naomi Watts and Lily Tomlin also delivered strong performances. Dustin Hoffman was a bit too quirky and his character was actually inspired by Russell's philosophy professor (Uma Thurman's father). I imagine he was highly exaggerated because his character was really out there. Isla Fisher and Jonah Hill have small cameos in this film and it was sort of a highlight for me to see them on screen. This was Hill's first feature film and no one would have imagined how successful he has become (two Oscar nominations for his recent work). As profound as the film tries to be I really don't feel like it has transcended and it should be ranked amongst Russell's weakest films over time. 


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