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The life of Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman) has been increasingly stressful. His job, at an environmental non-profit, has been increasingly difficult due to encroachment from both suburban sprawl and corporate drone Brad Stand (Jude Law) trying to take over his coalition. Also, he keeps running into an African doorman, and it seems all too coincidental. Albert decides to look for help on the matter.
He ends up turning to Jaffe & Jaffe, an existential/surrealist investigative agency headed by the sensible Vivian (Lily Tomlin) and her spacey husband Bernard (Dustin Hoffman). What begins as a simple investigation into Albert's case becomes a madcap romp that changes Albert, Brad, a fireman called Tommy Corn (Mark Wahlberg), Brad's girlfriend Dawn (Naomi Watts), and the entire Huckabees corporation.
This movie has examples of:
- The Cameo: Shania Twain.
- Cluster F-Bomb: The opening lines.
- Contemplate Our Navels:
- Fake American: It's not exactly clear what kind of accent Jude Law is doing in this movie, but it sure isn't American.
- Fan Disservice: Albert and Caterine's sex scene.
- Fan Service: Naomi Watts spends much of the film half-naked.
- Foe Yay: Albert is fixated on Brad to the point of obsession, leading to some very disturbing fantasies. Oddly, this is the one bit of character subtext that isn't picked up on by anyone else.
- For Want of a Nail: Caterine Vauban, former protege of the Jaffes that turned away from their positive philosophy due to some unnamed incident in the past. Albert eventually figures out this applies both ways: the Jaffes also went too optimistic due to this split. This ends up working out nicely since they appear to be in league.
- Freudian Slippery Slope: It's not quality, it's quantity!
- Fridge Brilliance: During the meeting with Huckabees corporate and the Shania tuna story begins, one barely-audible whisper can be heard: "Wait, I thought Shania was vegetarian."
- Heart Symbol: The actual title is I ♥ Huckabees
- Heterosexual Life Partners: To help with "the process," Vivian and Bernard assign an "Other": another client of theirs to help ease and empathize with the process. Albert's is firefighter Tommy Corn.
- Imagine Spot: The relaxation technique Bernard tries to teach Albert. It's not always relaxing, though.
- Internal Reformist: Brad attempts to work the system, saving the marshlands by giving the woods over to the developers.
- Lucky Charms Title
- Magical Realism
- Nice Hat: Subverted and played straight; Dawn starts wearing a bonnet that almost nobody likes. When Tommy likes it, she leaves Brad for him.
- Opposed Mentors: philosophically opposed existential detectives (who both served as Trickster Mentors for their clients) who may or may not have actually been working together, but would never admit it.
- The interaction between the existentialist main pair and their rogue, nihilistic former student, who appeared to be competing for their clients' philosophical allegiance also fits this trope.
- Playing Against Type: Naomi Watts, known for her dramatic roles, plays the ditzy spokesmodel for Huckabees.
- Precision F-Strike: Dawn Campbell (Brad's girlfriend) and her hilariously vicious whisper of "Fuckabees".
- Running Gag: The Shania Twain tuna story. Subverted later when Vivian and Bernard point out how often Brad uses this story for humor, which literally sickens Brad.
- Single-Issue Wonk: Tommy and his concern over petroleum products, capped when he goes on his bike to fight a fire. He ended up showing both the benefits of going via bike (getting to the fire while the truck was stuck in traffic) and the drawbacks (you can't really fit a fire hose on a bike).
- Stepford Smiler: Brad
- Slapstick: The Pure Bliss Ball Thingy.
- Squick: Dustin Hoffman breastfeeding
- Underdressed for the Occasion: When Albert tries to dine without a jacket, the restaurant loans him one. He finds a significant business card in the pocket of the loaner.
- Unreliable Narrator: Albert is hiding quite a bit.
How am I not myself?