This week we dive into the unfathomable depths of ontological awkwardness that is David O. Russell and Jeff Baena’s 2004 philosophically-driven comedy I Heart Huckabees. A superb screenplay that kind of slinked in and out of theatres and under everyone’s radar that year, this yarn is just silly with existential angst and serves as a prime paragon for plying profundities with peals of laughter.
The quick pitch: It’s Camus with chortles. The story follows two existential detectives as they investigate the meaning of life and the interconnected turbulence of their clients. We have a young Albert Markovski who fights the good fight to curb suburban sprawl and cope with the copious coincidences he encounters that cause him to question his purpose. And Tommy Corn, a volatile and disillusioned firefighter examining the answers to intolerable life questions. And Caterine Vauban, the sensuous nihilistic entropist who plays the cunning Svengali to this eclectic cast of characters.
The writers Russell and Baena knead together a Nietzschean narrative that plucks from a variety of genres. A pinch of spiritual self-help, peppered with a dash of detective discourse inundated generously with wholesale heapings of comedic katzenjammers. It’s Sam Spade with dialectical deconstructionism—equal measures absurd and insightful. It treads a tough trajectory between tickling your funny tibia and enturbulating your sense of straightforward storytelling.
The dialogue. The dialogue does it for me. And here the canny circumspections are embedded into the chuckles with surgeon-like precision. It takes a certain degree of dialogue dexterity to be able to deliver the sage along with the silly. But the screenwriters display an abundant acumen for it from act one.
Business cards conveying asinine business credentials are business as usual in this surreal world the screenwriters have conjured.
In one scene, disenchanted firefighter Tommy Corn waxes to a pair of pious children the perils of petroleum and a certain messiah’s munificence toward them:
So the script for I Heart Huckabees sits ready and raring for your fervent page-flipping here at the library. Swiftly find your way to Third and Fairfax and pursue belly-laughs and brahman between the brads. We’ll save a seat and a slice of serenity for you.
Remember to bring your own chains.
And when you’re nauseous of knockin’ around in nirvana, feel free to fraternize with these all too new scripts in our collection.
- HBO’s dramatic profile of unscrupulous Wall Street schemer Bernie Madoff The Wizard of Lies penned by Sam Levinson, John Burnham Schwartz, and Samuel Baum.
- The mirthful monkeyshines of Fox’s Mulaney created by John Mulaney.
- Hulu’s period drama from across the pond Harlots created by Alison Newman and Moira Buffini.
- 2012’s action thriller Jack Reacher written by Christopher McQuarrie adapted from the bestselling series by Lee Child.
Consult our online larder for additional scriptly enlightenment.