It's my first Console Gold thread!
I went and saw I
Huckabee's the other night and I'm gonna go ahead and recommend it but not without some hesitations and caveats and reservations. It's an absolute trainwreck of a movie, but it's a funny, bold, and compelling trainwreck. As you can sort of tell from the preview, the movie never really gels but that's almost beside the point.
The "plot" in a nutshell:
Jason Schwartzman is the founder and president of Open Spaces, an environmental group whose mission is to stop suburban sprawl and save the forests and marshland. He writes a poem about a rock he saved which begins, "You rock, Rock."
There's a troubling series of coincidences involving an African doorman that's been nagging at Schwartzman so he hires a pair of existential detectives played by Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman who sports a ridiculous dutchboy coif.
Their goal is to solve the meaning of these coincidences and dismantle Schwartzman's psyche thereby allowing him to perceive reality in a whole new way. Just don't call it therapy. The two of them can usually be found sneaking around the hedges, planting bugs, rooting through trash, etc.
Soon they introduce Schwartzman to Mark Wahlberg, another mental case they're investigating. He plays a firefighter violently obsessed with the evils of oil and SUVs. He's so troubled in fact that he won't set foot on the firetruck, opting instead to ride his bicycle to the fire. Of course, with L.A. traffic, he gets there first. Wahlberg might be my favorite character because he's so sincerely, endearingly daft and Wahlberg plays him totally straight.
Schwartzman and Wahlberg eventually cross paths with a French author and nihilist played by Isabelle Huppert. Her theories are diametrically opposed to the work of Tomlin and Hoffman and they warn them not to listen to her dangerous theories but she's too alluring to resist.
Schwartzman's arch-nemesis is Jude Law who works for a Walmart-esque megastore called Huckabee's as a sort of corporate liaison between the evil store and Open Spaces. He's a greedy pretty-boy bastard who loves to tell his favorite story about Shania Twain and mayonnaise.
Law lives with his girlfriend Naomi Watts who is the tits-n-ass model for Huckabee's print and TV ad campaign. Both of them are exceedingly shallow until they encounter the Tomlin/Hoffman existential investigators and start to question their identity and self-worth. Naomi Watts's breakdown is a comedic highlight; she shows up to film a new commercial with her face filthy, fully covered in denim overalls and an Amish bonnet.
The movie is a crazy barrage of highbrow and lowbrow, philosophy and slapstick, subtlety and farce. There are animated montages of sensory deprivation visions and scenes where square bits and pieces of the characters' faces go drifting off into the ether.
As for the soundtrack, it's great. Triggercut-and P.T. Anderson fave Jon Brion wrote the music and it's exceedingly good.
The surest sign that a movie got to you is when it lingers in your mind and you can't help thinking about it days or weeks after you've seen it. I wasn't sure I would even give Huckabee's a thumbs up when the credits started rolling, but I keep remembering funny lines, ridiculous scenes, and the sheer audacity of the whole damn movie. I think I liked it.
The high-concept, philosophical framework of the movie is deeply problematic but at the same time, there are some flatout brilliant laughs. There's an amazing Christian suburban dinner scene featuring Flirting With Disaster/Six Feet Under star Richard Jenkins which I thought was the funniest part of the movie.
"What happens in a meadow at dusk?"
I'll have to see it again to firm up my feelings on the movie. This quote from the New Yorker review nailed it:
“Huckabees” is the real thing—an authentic disaster—but the picture is so odd that it should inspire, in at least a part of the audience, feelings of fervent loyalty.
I'd agree that it's a disaster, but it's an endearingly gutsy and funny disaster. Huckabee's might end up sneaking an 8 or 9 or 10 spot on my year-end list. You should see it if you wanna see it.