I Heart Huckabees [2004]

Billed as "an existential comedy," I Heart Huckabees is a flawed yet endearingly audacious screwball romp that dares to ponder life's biggest questions. Much of director David O. Russell's philosophical humor is dense, talky, and impenetrable, leading critic Roger Ebert to observe that "it leaves the viewer out of the loop," and suggesting that Russell's screenplay (written with his assistant, Jeff Baena) is admirably bold yet frustratingly undisciplined. Russell's ideas are big but his expression of them is frenetic, centering on the unlikely pairing of an environmentalist (Jason Schwartzman) and a firefighter (Mark Wahlberg) as they depend on existential detectives (Lily Tomlin, Dustin Hoffman) and a French nihilist (Isabelle Huppert) to make sense of their existential crises, brought on (respectively) by a two-faced chain-store executive (Jude Law) and his spokesmodel girlfriend (Naomi Watts), and the aftermath of 9/11's terrorism. No brief description can do justice to Russell's comedic conceit; you'll either be annoyed and mystified or elated and delighted by this wacky primer for coping with 21st century lunacy. Deserving of its mixed reviews, I Heart Huckabees is an audacious mess, like life itself, and accepting that is the key to enjoying both. --Jeff Shannon

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