Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Trending On Empire
Empire's New Tom Cruise Cover
The Jameson Empire Awards 2014
Vote: The Greatest 301 Movies Of All Time!
Rebecca Hall:
My Movie Life

The actress picks the movies that shaped her
Mountain Dew Green Screen
Register Now to see X-MEN First Class!
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

An Episode In The Life Of An Iron Picker
4 Star Empire Rating
3 Star Empire Rating
You & Me Forever
4 Star Empire Rating
Looking For Light: Jane Brown
3 Star Empire Rating
Informant, The
2 Star Empire Rating

Rebel Without A Cause
5 Star Empire Rating
5 Star Empire Rating
Wake In Fright
5 Star Empire Rating
Stranger By The Lake
5 Star Empire Rating
Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?
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

The Making Of Locke: A Filmmaker's Journey
Steven Knight takes us through six pitstops (via Heston Services)

The 10 Most Exciting Movies At Cannes 2014
Empire's pick of the Croisette's finest

Tom Hardy: A Viewer's Guide
The essential, the recommended, the one for the fans... and the one to avoid

Ten Things To Know About The Spooks Movie
Under the hood of The Greater Good

Who’s In Spider-Man’s Sinister Six?
A bluffer’s guide to the planned spin-off from the Amazing Spider-films

14 YouTube Videos Every Game Of Thrones Fan Should Have Watched By Now
From goats singing the theme tune to every death in under three minutes

Hollywood's Biggest Names On Their Favourite Films
Stars and directors like Nolan, Whedon, Wright and Ford on the films that inspire them

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get Limited Edition Collectable X-Men Art Cards

Subscribe today and get 6 issues of Empire plus a set of collectable X-Men Art Cards for only £20!

Subscribe today

Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Just £25
Receive limited edition subscribers-only covers every month 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  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)