I ♥ Huckabees: Two-Disc Special Edition

January 28, 2012 10 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

A few years ago, Fox Searchlight had given a genre of the idea picture with Richard Linklater’s Waking Life giving an ambitious combination of digital video and animation around the discussion of ideas through various points of view. A few years later, director David O. Russell fresh from his critically successful Three Kings, had been toying with an idea film of his own that also has it’s share of how one looks at a meaning of a life and starts to notice the obstacles around one’s life investigated around them. It carries a big cast, it has a lot of thoughts and at the bulk of it is an organ of the body, a letter of the alphabet, and the name of a department store. Putting those three together, it’s read I Heart Huckabees.

After a chance meeting, environmental activist/poet Albert Markovsky (Jason Schwartzman) goes to two “existential detectives” Vivian and Bernard Jaffe (Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman) to find out the meaning of a coincidence that has come before him on three different occasions. In their investigation, they uncover a fireman with his own state of crisis (Mark Wahlberg), the head and the face of a department store who have plans of their own (Jude Law and Naomi Watts) and a former collegue of the Jaffe’s (Isabelle Huppert) that mysteriously follows everyone’s moves from an alternative path.

Once again, a studio with such great freedom has the guts to put out something original in the form of an idea film with a comic wit and an investigative twist along with a situations where on both sides nothing is what they seem to be.

The ideas presented picturing inner thoughts and using “the method” are visually amazing reminding this viewer of being a youth curious after sleeping with a cover over the face and staying that way coming with it’s own vision.

From that side is another. Some viewers can take this for so long and can be annoyed and can claim the picture gets in too deep in thought and not their cup of tea. In this viewers opinion, with the wonderful ensemble, it’s rich visual look and an original voice,

It does not have a conventional beginning or end but what is experienced is a most unique film that can take a lot of deep thoughts and wisely injects them into a feature comedy without being obvious, cliched or predictable.

I Heart Huckabees presents a vision of one self along with realizing a bit of thought from a few points of view not always in agreement but always interesting and never boring from start to finish.

Video: How does it look?

I Heart Huckabees is transferred in the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen format and with the exception of one blotch in one of the flashbacks of Albert, the entire film is a flawless transfer throughout the entire film. There is no big flaws, no debris or any sense of picture distortment. With the visuals being a key part of the film, they are presented in the best sense without oversaturation or too much softness in color. The overall video result is one from the heart and one of the best.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is reserved for all the sound aspects of the feature and the unique score of Jon Brion. There is not much in terms of effects but there is a lot in terms of dialogue and the 5.1 track comes off as very clear and easy to understand without having to raise a volume or get up from a seat to get closer. There are some booming effects such as the machete chops in the film and they come off alive and aloud and the visions present their own audio treats but in the end, the overall audio effect of the film is dazzling with its combinations. This disc also has a Spanish 2.0 track as well as English and French subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

I Heart Huckabees starts off it’s extras with two commentary tracks. The first is with director David O. Russell and the second is with Russell and actors Mark Wahlberg and Jason Schwartzman along with a brief comment from Naomi Watts via telephone. Both tracks cover the same ground as well as Wahlberg and Schwartzman giving their fun take on things while shooting the film as well as what lessons they took with them from the veteran actors around them. As a solo commentator Russell gives a little more information than he did on the cast and director track and both make for good commentary tracks giving a more directorial perspective and a collaborative perspective.

From this point, this is where the single disc extras end.

But not the 2 Disc Special Edition which starts off with a thirty-four minute production documentary that begins fluffy and gets more into the meat of things with the cast and director making for a very good documentary.

Next is an addition that made Unfaithful, One Hour Photo and Mystic River great titles. That addition is a segment from The Charlie Rose Show interviewing David O.Russell, Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin. Although Russell repeats facts from his tracks on disc 1, it is a great listen in the company of interviewer Rose as well as some solid input from Tomlin and Hoffman. This is one of the great extras on any DVD and if any film is covered on an episode of Charlie Rose, it should be a definite to include this great series on it’s appropriate DVD as this is another great example.

After that, there are 22 deleted scenes which can be viewed seperately or all together. They combine for fifty one minutes and some are amusing, some are really off the wall, and others are understandable for their exclusion. One of which includes a former cast member of The Facts of Life who was left on the cutting room floor during one scene and one line. I’ll let the audience guess which one. Overall, it’s interesting to see what it was shooting for and its another worthy addition.

Next there are four outtakes that can be seen the same way as the deleted scenes. It’s not as long (3 minutes) but it shows a few things that went on in between as well as Russell’s insistance on acting out an entire meg of film.

Following those is a section that is in spirit with the film, an twenty minute informercial going more into philosophy with two experts and our two existential detectives as hosts. It is a piece that discusses more ideas and spreads out Huckabees commercials in between. Both of which can be seen individually (great commercials) and are a most unique addition. In this section as well, there are 6 Open Space public service announcements as well as the crew’s viewpoints in costumes, music, and production design as well as a photo montage. There is even behind the scenes of the informercial, courtesy of director Russell making for a one of a kind combination in this section of the DVD.

Miscellaneous Things People Did is a four minute piece of amusing takes of things done in between shooting the film with the actors, crew and director Russell. Another example of how much fun all had on the picture which I thought was more amusing than the outtakes.

Finally, in the section titled “Extras”, there is a teaser and theatrical trailer along with Jon Brion’s music video of Knock Yourself Out that can be heard with or without commentary and has a behind the scenes of the video finishing off with a spot for the soundtrack of the film.

The 2 Disc I Heart Huckabees is a bit pricey but if a good deal can be found for it, you’ll have a one of a kind idea picture in your hands along with an intriguing collection of extras documenting the filming of this picture. It’s combined well with a lot of heart of an original film and an even more original 2 Disc DVD Special Edition.

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