Review Date: January 05, 2005
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: David O. Russell, Jeff Baena
Producers: David O. Russell, Scott Rudin, Gregory Goodman
Jason Schwartzman as Albert
Dustin Hoffman as Bernard
Lily Tomlin as Vivian
A confused environmentalist hires two existential detectives to figure out why he’s run into the same man on three different occasions. He realizes that they were coincidences, but believes there might be something more to it than that. As the detectives begin their work, they uncover a myriad of other related issues, some having to do with the corporation with which he was dealing at the time, along with a bunch of other folks looking for the answers to their lives. Existential poppycock ensues.
I liked this movie. It certainly had the potential to be one of my most hated films of the year, with pretentiousness and philosophical bullshit sprinkled throughout, but thankfully it didn’t seem to take much of its own self seriously, with several scenes featuring the characters themselves even confused about what the shit anybody was talking about (“I don’t even know what that means!”). It is original though, and for anyone who has been reading my reviews since the late 90s, you know that I’m a sucker when it comes to anything that, at the very least, tries to be creative and different in thought, rather than the saccharine, cookie-cutter, remade, sequelized, re-imagined stuff that’s cranked out of 90% of Hollywood’s pumps these days. That said, the film also kept me interested and entertained through most of its runtime, and you can’t really ask for much more than that from certain movies. Granted, the film’s not gonna change your life, but if you’re the sort of person who appreciates “deep thought” every now and again, I’m sure that you’ll get a lot more out of it than your average Joe. I enjoy pondering the existential ever now and again, so I had fun with the many thoughts spread over this film, specifically the two trains of thought dealing with how much of what happens in our world is filled with coincidences and connections, all of which are interrelated, and the other side which says that nothing is related and that everything is just plain chaos and dark. I guess there’s a little bit of truth to both sides, but whatever the case, you’re sure to get a kick out of some of the characters grappling with these “deep thoughts”, particularly since many of them are enjoyable to watch, and seemingly getting a kick out of playing these over-the-top characters as well.
Top of that list goes to Mark Wahlberg, who I’ve knocked over the past few years for playing the “same guy” in most of his films (he plays “Mark Wahlberg”), but who stretches and shows us his surprisingly prime comedic chops here. Nice going, Marky. And his big-ass firefighter boots were the tits! Jason Schwartzman was also solid as the lead character who seemed to be as confused as some of us can be at times, while Jude Law, who despite being in one too many films this fall, also came through as the “baddie” of sorts, the man in the suit and the ying to the film’s yang. Naomi Watts also has a small, but damn cute role and I personally got a kick out of the running Shania Twain gag throughout the movie. Nice touch at the end too. I didn’t really laugh much though, but was smiling most of the way, really enjoyed the film’s light touch and score, quirky directorial choices, as well as the handful of guffaws that did get tossed out there every once in a while (the dinner sequence with the always-amazing Richard Jenkins and his family was priceless). “She said Fuckabees!” was also a great line. Overall, I definitely can’t recommend this movie to anyone looking for a straight-forward movie or comedy, since it’s riddled in…well, riddles, and questions leading to more questions with no answers and so forth, but I enjoyed the ride, appreciated its characters (Tomlin and Hoffman were also fun to listen to and watch) and certainly praise the filmmakers for creating a different kind of motion picture, one that challenges the status quo and gives audiences a skewed view on the typical. Here, here!
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian