I © Huckabees

I © Huckabees (2004)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Jude Law, Lily Tomlin, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Schwartzman, Naomi Watts
Extras: Commentary Tracks

I had never heard of "I © Huckabees" and when the DVD arrived I just looked at it with growing curiosity. Soon I decided the film had to be quirky enough to warrant a closer look and so I checked it out in more detail.

"I © Huckabees" is a film like you’ve probably never seen before. It is a comedy and very funny but don’t you mistake that for a film that is shallow or silly. "I © Huckabees" is actually an extremely witty social observation that takes a look at existential questions we may all have had at one point or another. "Where do we come from?" What’s our purpose in life?" "Are there aliens?" "Does anything we do really matter?" and so forth. What seems like a joke at first in this film, oftentimes turns out to be a real, serious existentialist question with validity. In the film you then have a bunch of far-out characters dealing with these questions making for truly enjoyable romp. The dialogues in the film are amazing and some of the characters’ throw-away lines actually do have the most weight and relevance in the subject matter. Just check out the dinner scene at Steven’s house for a glimpse how a few simple words can REALLY put you on the spot and get you thinking.

The film features an all-star cast, including Dustin Hoffman, Jude Law, Lily Tomlin, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Schwartzman and Naomi Watts among others. Despite their quirks, each of these characters is portrayed very seriously, lending credibility to the entire film without turning the premise into a farce. How easy it would have been to slip in this treacherous territory but director David Russell has a firm grasp on the material, turning this into a truly inspired and unique film.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment presents the movie in its original 2.35:1 <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio on this DVD, as well as a cropped <$PS,pan & scan> version. The image is very clean and without any defects at all. The level of detail found is very high and throughout the image perfectly reproduces the wide range of colors and hues. Skin tones are always natural and with its solid black levels, the image boast deep shadows that never break up, giving the image good visual depth. No edge-enhancement or compression artifacts distract from the viewing pleasure here.

The audio comes as a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> track that is engaging and active. Do not expect overly effective surrounds here, but a subtle ambient sound field that makes good use of the discrete channels to create a lively, but unexaggerated atmosphere in indoor and outdoor environments. The frequency response is natural with dialogue that is well integrated and never drowned out. The dynamic range is also very good, though the track doesn’t really lend itself to show off its full capabilities.

As supplements you will find two separate <$commentary,commentary track>s on the release. The first one features director David Russell as he explores the origins of the film, his intentions and the production in general, also covering how he coaxed some of the film’s greatest moments out of the cast. It is full of gems and interesting tidbits, so make sure to give it a spin.

A little more relaxed is the second commentary featuring David Russell with his stars Jason Schwartzman, Mark Wahlberg and Naomi Watts. Again this is a valuable track as they all discuss the issues touched upon by the film. Since all three of the actors play existentialist-inflected characters in the movie, the commentary is particularly interesting as it covers a lot of the motivation and thoughts these characters have, making some of the issues even more relevant as they are discussed in more detail.

This DVD came completely out of the left field for me – very much like Napoleon Dynamite. It is one of the most original films I’ve seen in a while and it is definitely a comedy for the thinking people. There’s no gross-out teenage humor here, but some surprisingly serious material that is presented with such an oddball mentality that it goes through the roof. Clearly, "I © Huckabees" is one of the DVD highlights for you to look out for.