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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » I Heart Huckabees
I Heart Huckabees
Fox // R // February 22, 2005
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted February 23, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

One of the most oddball mainstream American films in a while, "I Huckabees" doesn't always succeed, but it's always trying, always ambitious. I saw the film theatrically and, about halfway through the picture, I knew I wanted to see it again to try and absorb it better, pick up on other elements that maybe I'd missed. Certainly, it's a rather love it or hate it film, but those who will love it will definitely find a lot to appreciate.
The film stars Jason Schwartzman ("Rushmore") as Albert, a non-profit organization leader who is searching for the meaning of things while trying to combat the Huckabees Corporation (read: Wal-Mart), who is trying to take over a wooded area. His main enemy is Brad (Jude Law), a higher-up in the corporation who turns the battle over the open spaces area into an idea about putting on a Shania Twain promotional concert.

Irritated by Brad and puzzled over an African-American guy who he keeps seeing, Albert finds himself getting into the office of a pair of existenial detectives, the Jaffes (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin), who agree to follow him around every day in order to find the hidden meanings in his life. Brad, finding out about the work that the detectives are doing, decides to sign up himself, then his girlfriend, Huckabees spokesmodel, Dawn (Naomi Watts) finds her way into the office. Albert also is paired up with his "other", a firefighter who is angered by the use of petroleum (Mark Whalberg) and believes that his answers are within the teachings of Caterine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert), who preaches the opposite of the Jaffes.

Performances are generally very good, especially the pairing of Hoffman and Tomlin, who play off one another brilliantly. Schwartzman is amusing, as are Whalberg (working with the director again after their "Three Kings"), Law and Watts. The picture's pacing is generally good, and it moved along even more quickly the second time. "Huckabees" attempts to offer some theories about personality, humanity and life, but it doesn't really answer all of the questions it asks. Some of the humor also falls a little flat, but most of it works. However, the film does offer a nice mix of comedy, drama and thought-provoking ideas, which does make the film stand out above a lot of mainstream fare.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Huckabees" is presented by Fox in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 pan & scan on a dual-sided, single-layered disc. The picture quality is quite good - another fine effort from the studio. Sharpness and detail on the anamorphic widescreen presentation are generally very good - the picture appears a touch soft at times, but the image is otherwise mostly crisp and clean, with satisfying detail.

Some slight edge enhancement made its presence known in a few scenes, but this was hardly a distraction. No pixelation was spotted, and the print looked nice and clean. Colors looked bright and natural, with no smearing or other faults.

SOUND: "Huckabees" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's soundtrack is almost entirely front-heavy, with not very much in the way of surround use at all. Audio quality was fine though, as score and dialogue sounded crisp and clear.

EXTRAS: Director David O. Russell is joined by actors Mark Whalberg, Jason Schwartzman and Naomi Watts in a commentary. Watts is called by the director later in the track and her (brief) comments are offered at that time. Russell also offers his own audio commentary on a separate track. The actors commentary is a little less energetic than I'd expected, but the group still manages to offer some funny stories and interesting remarks - we hear a lot of stories from the set and they have some solid insights. The director's commentary is a bit stronger, in terms of information, as Russell provides an enjoyable overview of the production, including some explorations of the story ideas.

Final Thoughts: "I Heart Huckabees" isn't going to be for everyone, but the film is an intelligent, often amusing comedy that offers good performances and some surprises. Fox's single-disc DVD offers very good image quality, fine audio and a couple of informative supplements. Fans of the film should seek out the 2-DVD Special Edition, while those who haven't seen the film should try renting this edition.

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