06 June 2010
The hardest movies for me to comment on are the ones I've seen a dozen or more times before. A comedy about philosophy, that actually espouses a specific holistic viewpoint and riffs on growing political and economic issues? That shouldn't work. There is the pervasive idea that movie audiences don't like to be made to think. I don't buy it, but it's a common subtext of Hollywood's moviemaking approach for as long as there's been Hollywood moviemaking (with a brief blip in the 60s and 70s). Most certainly the last decade's worth of corporate-made tentpoles takes for granted that "asking an audience to think" is threatening. And yet, movies like this sneak by, I suspect because they're so charming.
Watching this again, though, what sticks with me is why it's a successful comedy. It's not funny because of the philosophy (it is moving, to an overthinkin' dude like me, because of the philosophy). It's funny because of the characters. They are distinct, intertwined, original, and likable. The cast is astounding. Jude Law, Jason Schwartzman, and Mark Wahlberg are all actors I want to like. In practice I only like them in about half their films, but when I do I generally love them, and this is a perfect storm for those three. Naomi Watts, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Isabelle Huppert... it's a challenge not to love them in whatever.
I don't have much to say. Like I said, when you've seen a movie so many times, it's hard to have new thoughts sometimes. But character is the heart of story, and I Heart Huckabees only works because the characters are so fucking good.