Edge

CD REVIEW i love huckabees

Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson (Rushmore), Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia), and David O. Russell could arguably be called the four best writer/directors to surface in the ’90s and are clearly helping to lead a new wave of filmmakers similar to the emergence of Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Brian DePalma around the same time in the ’70s.

In the 12 years since Reservoir Dogs signaled the arrival of new independent cinema, none of these young directors have made more than four films (counting the Kill Bills as one). Today’s younger, more artistically minded filmmakers are more likely to take a three-year break between releases than to crank out a movie a year.

That brings up Russell, who seemingly disappeared after the brilliant Three Kings came out five years ago. One would hope his newest film, I Heart Huckabees, would make up for the absence. Unfortunately, Huckabees is merely another good film, not a great one, and when the competition includes QT and the Andersons (not related), good isn’t going to cut it.

Huckabees looked promising, boasting an impressive cast that includes indie-fave Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore), Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Jude Law, Naomi Watts and the surprisingly versatile Mark Wahlberg. The actors deliver as promised, and Huckabees is still a quality picture, but it lacks the powerful brilliance behind Russell’s previous work.

The story is quirky and interesting, featuring Schwartzman as a confused environmentalist who seeks out a goofy pair of “existential detectives,” played by Hoffman and Tomlin. Schwartzman’s nemesis and total opposite is an upbeat young executive (Law), and he too becomes involved with the detectives, who are a strange cross between private investigators and psychiatrists.

The plot is too multi-layered to explain, and that is part of its weakness. Huckabees is terrific as a quirky comedy with unique characters and good acting. It fails as a philosophical drama, though, because it never leaves an opening for the audience to absorb itself in the subject matter. Instead, the viewer is left on the outside, able to enjoy the film and its content, but not able to become really immersed in it.

The best performance in the film comes from Wahlberg, shockingly enough. It’s fun to still think of him as Marky Mark, and yeah, he did do Planet of the Apes and Rock Star, but Wahlberg deserves way more credit than he gets from most moviegoers. With Boogie Nights and Three Kings, he participated in two of the best films of the past 10 years, and it’s not his fault that Huckabees doesn’t reach that mark as well. In it, Wahlberg plays a semi-environmentalist firefighter whose major issue with society is its blind consumption of petroleum. So he rides to all the fires on his bike, and he later becomes Schwartzman’s sidekick and friend. It helps that he’s given a good share of the random comedy in the script, but he also plays it perfectly and could get a Best Supporting Actor nomination if voters could overlook his youthful indiscretions. Huckabees is worth seeing for fans of quirky humor and bizarre philosophical ramblings about modern life. It is not another masterpiece from Russell, but is laugh-out-loud funny and very enjoyable. Russell, along with P.T. Anderson and Tarantino, doesn’t look like he’ll have another dramatic effort out for at least a couple more years, although he does have a war documentary due out soon.

Shawn Wines can be reached at

s.wines@umiami.edu.

October 15, 2004

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Jesus Luzardo had yet to throw a single pitch as a professional baseball player in 2016 when he unde ...

Former Miami Hurricanes quarterback Robert Marve has been arrested in Hillsborough County on an out- ...

Mark Richt has led the Miami Hurricanes back into the national college football conversation during ...

University of Miami coach Mark Richt and his vaunted 2018 signing class, nicknamed #Storm18, should ...

Part four of a five-part series on UM’s defense with the start of fall camp a month away: Cornerback ...

A School of Communication associate professor played an important hand—an artistic one!—in World Cup ...

University of Miami law and political science professors weigh in on Trump’s SCOTUS nominee. ...

Research bioclimatologists with the UM Synoptic Climatology Lab counsel cities on how to manage risi ...

A UM-led study is examining how children’s play behavior at beaches could impact their health. ...

Political polarization, distrust in fact-based knowledge and verbal targeting may be fueling the ons ...

University of Miami head volleyball coach Jose "Keno" Gandara announced the additions of K ...

Three-time CSCAA Honorable Mention All-American diver Wally Layland and two-time ITA All-American te ...

Miami head women's tennis coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews announced Thursday the signing of two more ...

University of Miami head football coach Mark Richt was among the 20 coaches selected to the preseaso ...

Miami opens the Wooden Legacy against La Salle on Thanksgiving Day in Fullerton, Calif. ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.