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Huckabees Cover I [Heart] Huckabees

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

The most telling scene of I [Heart] Huckabees is when a burnt-out firefighter, who hates our petroleum-based society, rides to a fire on his bike rather than on a firetruck.

The kicker is that due to heavy traffic he beats the firetruck to the fire!

This provocative film is about how to cope in a troubled, incongruous, post-9/11 America. Of course, firefighters should not scrap their firetrucks, but one legitimate response to 9/11, the film says, would be to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by biking more.

That’s just what the main characters (Tommy, the firefighter, and Albert, a scruffy environmental activist) do throughout the film. This creates some laughs and poignant moments. Nevertheless, the bike riding comes off as pointless because Tommy and Albert come across as nut cases.

In the beginning, you feel for their angst and admire their willingness to challenge the status quo (including many other things in addition to biking). But eventually they come across as freaks. For example, in the end, they choose a form of therapy that involves whacking themselves in the head with a big rubber ball.

The story pits Albert against a spiffy corporate executive, but everyone seems to meltdown. Analyzing them and competing for their allegiance are two existential detectives and a French nihilistic therapist. Does anything matter, they ask. Why is the world such an awful place?

Huckabees deserves credit for raising thoughtful questions. It challenges viewers to plumb the meaning of life and examine an array of social and political issues from sex to beauty, from child labor to political refugees. Parts of it are funny, and most of the lead actors are terrific, especially Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin as the detectives.

But this zany film spits out too many mixed messages. The mishmash would have been better as a series of comedy skits than as a major motion picture. It’s hard to sit through two hours of shenanigans from self-absorbed, guilt-infested, doubt-ridden characters who have more in common with Beavis and Butt-head than Jean Paul Sartre.

Expect questions but not answers. Yes, our world is increasingly confusing, but that doesn’t mean we have to wallow in the muck.

Title: I [Heart] Huckabees
Year Released: 2004
Duration: 107 minutes
Language: English
Bike Content: 5/10 wheels

Posted by Greg Borzo on 09/03 at 10:07 PM