Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Kevin Feige:
My Movie Life

The Marvel supremo's pick of the flicks
Subscribe: Get 6 Issues For £15
Get Empire magazine today and save money!
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

Naomi Watts
Jason Schwartzman
Jude Law
Mark Wahlberg
Dustin Hoffman
Lily Tomlin
Isabelle Huppert
Tippi Hedren.
David O Russell.
David O Russell
Jeff Baena.
Running Time
107 minutes

3 Star Empire Rating
Last Impresario, The
3 Star Empire Rating
I Origins
4 Star Empire Rating
Soul Boys Of The Western World
4 Star Empire Rating
What We Did On Our Holiday
3 Star Empire Rating

Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Two Days, One Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Some Like It Hot
5 Star Empire Rating
A Hard Day's Night
5 Star Empire Rating
5 Star Empire Rating

I Heart Huckabees
So, this is 'existential comedy'...

submit to reddit

Environmental activist Albert (Schwartzman) is so perplexed by a coincidence that he hires an "existential detective" team (Hoffman and Tomlin) to discover its underlying meaning. However, the intrusive 'tecs are more interested in exploring Albert's relationship with his nemesis Brad (Law), a PR man for retail chain Huckabees...

Two key questions throb at the centre of David O. Russell's first outing since '99 Gulf War actioner Three Kings. Firstly, the big one: what's the meaning of life? And secondly, the even bigger one: how the hell did he convince Fox to greenlight a bizarre, nebulous comedy which involves - among other things - bad poetry, quantum theory, a 9/11-frazzled fireman, Shania Twain eating chicken salad and an intellectual conflict between Eastern philosophical notions of universal interconnectedness and the more nihilistic musings of Sartre?

Of course, the first question can't really be answered, even if Russell makes a fair fist of it. As for the second, well, it seems that a good script can count for a lot, even if it's impossible to pitch in fewer than 50 words. It can attract a great cast, too, Russell's game ensemble savouring lines like, "There is no remainder in the mathematics of reality," and, "I don't see this as therapy; it's just that I'm proactive and these people are action-oriented"

It's not for everyone, that's for sure. You could easily see it as a movie that's as much about nothing as it is about everything, and its meandering plot is little more than a collage of whimsical skits, allowing tangential events to become central while pushing seemingly important events out of the foreground. It's also arguable that what I Heart Huckabees really lacks is, ironically, heart, its characters mere vehicles for Russell's existential explorations.

But as a highbrow farce it quirks perfectly, kind of like a smaller, less melodramatic Magnolia with more laughs, and the cast is energetic and effective enough to generate warmth towards their sketchy roles. Wahlberg is particularly entertaining as the SUV-hating fireman who insists on riding his bike to emergency calls, while Hoffman has a twinkly, impish appeal as the therapist-cum-detective who teaches Albert how to deconstruct reality.

Russell also has some neat visual tricks up his sleeve, snipping squares out of the fabric of reality and floating them around the screen, and presenting Albert's subconscious conjurings as freakish cardboard cut-out animations. Even if you lose track of what precisely the film's trying to say, at least its smart style - not to mention some great physical comedy - will see you through.

If you're up for it, you'll discover a fresh, funny little romp unafraid to tackle the biggest issues of all.

Reviewed by Dan Jolin

Related Reviews

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for I Heart Huckabees
Empire Star Rating

Weird, funny, clever and unbelievably original. You'll either love it or loath it ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danfacey711 at 16:46, 09 March 2014 | Report This Post

imagine David o Russell and wes Anderson met and had a baby. Then Jason reitman and David lynch met and had a baby. Then those two babies somehow met and fucked, this would be the offspring. Even if that is impossible. Difficult to imagine david o Russell made this ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by fightclubber954 at 02:14, 02 July 2011 | Report This Post

a great existential drama/ comedy

You either love it or hate it.. For me it was a great debate between what was the meaning of life. Mark wahlbergs performance was spectacular and heart have to know that its not some shitty adam sandler movie... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dirk Diggler 619 at 16:38, 22 May 2011 | Report This Post

One of the top 3 worst films I have ever seen in my life. Atrocious ad-libbed acting, painfully unfunny on any level, a nonsensical, meandering 'plot' and worst of all, dull as shit. It came off as a particularly amateurish student film. Hated it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dark crystal at 02:02, 02 April 2011 | Report This Post

The Great White Sheet That Is The Universe.

This film is brillant, especially if your someone who is open minded to themselves and views of the world. Not only does the superb cast make you laugh till you snort kenco, but it also provides a point for the viewer to ponder on as well - the meaning of everything. This film is not a light comedy by any means, and a lot of people won't get it purely on it's basis on something intangible, but it is a great film none the less. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ukedge87 at 08:55, 18 May 2006 | Report This Post

You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list

The Future Of Film: Cinema Will Cross The Uncanny Valley
The future of VFX, from believable digital humans to underwater mocap

The Future Of Film: There Will Be Another Indie Golden Age
Independent producers are growing from micro-budgets to something a lot bigger

Empire's Epic Interstellar Subscribers' Cover
The countdown begins to Christopher Nolan's sci-fi masterpiece

The Future Of Film: Your Favourite Movie WIll Be Crowdfunded
Click here to donate

The Empire Podcast #128: Interviews With Sir Roger Moore And George MacKay
Plus we say goodbye to Richard Kiel and the British Expendables are assembled...

Shut Up, World! Gary Busey Is Talking!
Strap yourselves in and meet a true Hollywood original.

Classic Feature: Gods Among Us - Paul Newman
A cat so cool he makes Steve McQueen look geeky.

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)