Jason Schwartzman is a young man in despair. His brand of environmental activism (whichinvolves reciting a lot of bad poetry and planting trees in the middle of parking lots) isn’t gettinghim far, and then he is on the verge of being ousted from his own organization when Jude Law,executive at the Wal-Mart-like Huckabees, becomes a sponsor and takes the whole thing over.Schwartzman turns for help with his life to existential detectives Dustin Hoffman and LilyTomlin, but he t…en finds himself caught in a tug of war, along with fellow sufferer MarkWahlberg, between Hoffman and Tomlin’s everything-is-connected philosophy and sultry Frenchphilospher Isabelle Huppert’s everything-is-cruel-and-meaningless approach.
The film is clever, but frequently self-indulgently opaque, and the ultimate payoff is prettydamn banal for a work that was very painfully shooting for something heady. Along themeandering way are reams of conversations that don’t do much other than allow director DavidO. Russell and his co-writer Jeff Baena to sound off. Points for trying, but there is far too muchtelling instead of showing going on here. But if this is a failure, it is a most honourable andinteresting one.
The 5.1 track might as well be mono for all the work-out that it gets. The music sounds great,and has a spiffing bass, but otherwise this is a movie where virtually the only thing we here istalk, talk, and more talk. So there are a couple of nice surround effects that creep in now andthen. The dialogue, thankfully, is completely free of distortion.
The picture comes in both fullscreen and 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen aspects, and thereare some very nice visual touches here which would be quite spoiled by cropping, so avoid thefullscreen. The colours are strong and natural, as are the flesh tones. The image is sharp andgrain-free, and there are no edge enhancement halos.
Given how talky and full of ideas the film is, it should come as no surprise that, as Russellexplains, there was too much to say for one commentary track, and so we have two. One isRussell solo, and is perhaps the more philosophically oriented of the two tracks. The other is a bitmore behind-the-scenes, and here Russell is joined by Schwartzman, Wahlberg and Watts,though these three were not present at all times, and are edited in. The menu’s main screen, introand transitions are animated and scored.
I’m a big fan of Russell’s Three Kings, and so was disappointed by this flubbed,though admittedly original, follow-up. At least the movie is trying for something.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentaries