movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] I’d been avoiding this for several years based on thinking it was a bunch of existential bullshit that I would hate. But then I noticed that the people who have the highest Netflix-compatibility-rating (the top 3 out of my 20+ netflix friends) had all rated this 4 or 5 stars. On several occasions, I would read about this movie, and decide not to get it. Finally, a chance came to get it for a cheaper cost, and I still wasn’t sure. Ultimately, I did not watch this movie because I was interested in it, but because I was sick of the amount of effort I’d spent trying to figure out if I would like it or not!

HAIKU: Philosophy films
have very mixed reactions;
ours was also mixed.

LIMERICK: There once was a film called I Heart Huckabees,
that everyone reviewed so quite differently.
Some called it philosophical masturbation,
Others liked its extensive rumination.
I ended up liking it, but it sure wasn’t the bee’s knees.

PEOPLE: Directed by David O. Russell, who brought us Three Kings.
Dustin Hoffman (again?) plays a character partly inspired by Uma Thurman‘s father in real life. Lily Tomlin (Carolyn didn’t know who she was?!?!).
Also: Jude Law, Naomi Watts (who only got the part after Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston, and Britney Spears fell through), Mark Wahlberg (UGH).

TRIVIA: Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin were the original choices for Popeye and Olive Oyl in the film adaptation of Popeye, which I think was the best thing Robert Altman ever did. (Looks for incoming rocks from Ian‘s direction… I’ve actually only seen Popeye and Short Cuts, but Short Cuts sucked SOOOO bad I’m surprised Popeye could come out of the same person.)

QUIRKS: Apparently an “existential detective” is kind of like a therapist combined with a private investigator. I actually think real therapists could be a lot more effective if they followed their clients around and performed surveillance on them, like in this movie. But they’d be a hell of a lot more expensive!

At times, because they were acting like private investigators, and because they ended up talking about strange, seemingly off-topic topics … This reminded me of Duckman.

WHOA, DUDE: Anyway, check out David O. Russel losing it towards Lily Tomlin while directing the movie:


BAD STUFF: Well… Like I suspected, this film *is* filled with a bunch of “existential bullshit”. However…

CONCLUSION: …the movie is thoroughly enjoyable. I didn’t think it was going to be as comedic as it was, but it was. I definitely felt unsure as to whether or not I got the “true point” of the movie. To an extent, the movie seems to deliberately obfuscate the point. Or maybe the point is that there’s no point at all? (I bet Ian would have something helpful to say.)

Or rather, that the point is: Yes, you’ve found a point: Everything is interconnected. While the point is ultimately valid, it’s still meaningless existential bullshit.

Or rather, they are making 3 points, in a sense: 1) Everything is connected. 2) Everything is meaningless. 3) The real point lies somewhere in the middle ground between point #1 (optimism) and point #2 (pessimism).

In the end, I’m not sure that I really learned anything (which wasn’t my stated goal anyway!). I seemed to come out of the movie thinking, “Yup, philosophy and spirituality have a lot of truths, but they are utterly a somewhat useless waste of time.”

I think the two main characters (therapy-receivers) are frickin’ awesome that they care about their politics and world view enough to bike around everywhere and refuse to participate in a system (petroleum) that they are ideologically opposed to. I’d love to see 100X as many people care this strongly about those kinds of issues. (We wouldn’t need to ride bikes; We’d have fuel-efficient cars and better public transport if the world was full of these guys…)

I think they’re awesome to storm out of their friends’ supper because they’d rather tell their friends’ parents/guardians (the first lady from 24 S6/Designing Women, and the dad from Six Feet Under?!?!) how fucked up and hypocritical their politics are, and how they use religion as a convenient crutch to ignore the reality of, well… reality. I’ve felt this way myself countless times.

I also see the folly in them being the way they are too, as the family they stormed out of didn’t necessarily or purposely *do* anything to deserve the amount of vitriol they received. But a similar wake-up call really needs to be broadcast across America.

Anyway, I’d be curious to hear elaboration from the others who watched this movie, and to find out what they took out of it. This movie seems more open to interpretation than most.

RECOMMENDATION: See it just to find out if you like it or hate it. This movie is a wild card, waiting to be played. I want to know what other people got out of this.

MOVIE QUOTE: “How am I not myself?”

RATINGS: Melanie B, Eric M, Benj all loved it. Ian & Christian D really liked it. Tatiana liked it. Metinee & Glen didn’t like it. Stewie from Family Guy hated it. (Rare that I know Stewie’s opinion, but this is official.) Darren rented it but hasn’t rated it yet :) On IMDB, it got a 6.9. On Netflix, it got 3.3 stars, but only 3.2 stars for people who rate like me. And I did in fact like it slightly less than others, as I would probably only give this 3 stars. A better ending could have pushed it to 4.

COINCIDENCES: (Kung Fu Panda, I Heart Huckabees) Two Dustin Hoffman movies in a row. I hardly ever hear from that guy. And then, after writing this coincidence down — a few minutes later in the movie they open a book listed “coincidences”. It turns out the whole movie is about coincidences.

Mood: avoiding work
Music: Tiamat – Cain