This is a very silly title for a very silly film about very silly people with very silly ideas.
I will be straight with you. You might dislike it. If, after the first ten minutes, you say to yourself, "Wow, what a bunch of useless, pretentious crap these characters are spouting," you should just leave the theater. It does not get any "better". And it is not really a good date movie.
If, however, like me, you are a very silly person, you might say to yourself, "Wow, finally a film that addresses these issues I have always been deeply concerned with." I did not dislike it. I thought it was wonderful and hilarious.
"But," you're curious, "how do I know if I'm silly enough?" Well. The feeling you get after ingesting this movie is somewhat like the feeling you might get after watching Magnolia, Waking Life, and Rushmore all in a row. Those are some films that seem to annoy people deeply (though, again, I love them all, because nothing is ever weird enough for me). So, if they annoy you, then stay home from this one.
I am not going to describe the plot. I am not even going to try. Because the film is about causality and coincidence, to reveal what happens when is to rob it of its magic. If you want the philosophical hoohah to come to fruition, you must pay very close attention and connect all the dots that the characters cannot. Those characters are:
- Jason Schwartzman as Albert, an environmetalist and bad poet. He is having a coincidence problem: A stranger keeps appearing wherever he goes.
- Mark Wahlberg as Tommy, a father and firefighter. He is very concerned about petroleum.
- Jude Law as Brad, a corporate executive. He is skilled at making people like him. Perhaps too skilled.
- Naomi Watts as Dawn, a corporate spokesmodel. She is beginning to suspect that she is not very smart or happy.
- Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin as existential detectives investigating the problems of all of the above. They are far too wise to make sense to anyone around them.
There are also several noteworthy actors in much smaller roles. Keep an eye out for them.
All of this springs from the warped mind of David O. Russell, who was one of my favorite American directors back when he had only made one feature film. He is still at the top of the list. Not only is this film beyond unique, it is beyond unpredictable. The ads are labeling it an "existential comedy" (and then showing you only slapstick and no dialogue), but I think "philosophical farce" is a better description.
The DP is Peter Deming, who's got lots of wackiness on his reel already, with the likes of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Evil Dead 2 and David Lynch. However, his response to this ideological absurdity is to shoot it totally straight, with normal lenses and lots of cool dull blues and grays. It makes everything seem even weirder.
The score is by composer Jon Brion, who also did Punch-Drunk Love and Eternal Sunshine. He seems to have a sad yet whimsical monopoly on all the movies about stubbly introverted white guys. If it were not an excellent feel, I would mind.
And the last thing I'll mention is another secret the TV spots are hiding from you: This picture has some of the coolest, trippiest effects sequences since Fear and Loathing. For a few seconds, the energy of imagination extends outward to engulf the universe. Till all are one.