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Ed from OC

Garden State / Huckabees

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I wanted to pass along a recommendation for two movies in current release: "Garden State" and "I (heart) Huckabees" -- especially the latter.

Both are offbeat psychological explorations of the inner world of the main characters. GS focuses on the search for meaning (i.e., values) in life, while IHH searches for the inner selves of several characters (and shows the consequences of living secondhand). Both aim for the release of past demons through a moment of catharsis as a gateway to meaningful happiness.

IHH stands out as an explictly philosophical film, with some characters taking a one-with-the-universe new-age-y view while others are explicitly nihlistic / exisistential. A lot of mumbo-jumbo is tossed around, but it is intended for comic absurdity. There is a lot of kidding around, but the fundamental morality and practicality of being true to one's self is the theme.

I could say the theme is selfishness, but that's not quite it, and that point is not made explicitly. In negative terms, the theme would be: don't betray the self.

Both have offbeat and unusual styles which aren't for everyone, especially IHH, so be forewarned. GS is the more conventional.

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From the previews I saw, the Huckabees seemed like one long giant exploration into Existentialism. You wouldn't say that this is the case?

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From the previews I saw, the Huckabees seemed like one long giant exploration into Existentialism.  You wouldn't say that this is the case?

If you mean one long, boring, unfunny, undramatic exploration, then no. Exisistentialism is a factor, but the movie is quite funny and has several touching moments. I hesitated to see it, but I'm glad I bit the bullet and tried it.

It is more of an offbeat, oddball comedy than a serious sales pitch for exisistentialism.

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I saw Garden State about 2 months ago, and I found it to be a movie about characters searching for value, but never truly finding the solution. I thought it was very symbolic of most young adults in this day and age. Very depressing if you ask me.

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I saw IHH and thought it was hilarious. I especially liked that it was openly about philosophy. I wonder if movies like this one can draw more people to this field.

One more thing, this isn't too much of a spoiler... In the scene in which the main character first meets the Existentialist detectives, the detective (Lily Tomlin) warns him about looking under the surface of life. She says something about how most people are content to live happy shallow lives on the surface and warns him about how going deeper will change things for him. Those lines made the whole movie for me, because I think she's right. I find that most people don't like to talk about philosophy at all, they don't want to look under the surface of life because they'll have to start answering some questions they've been happily avoiding for years. They've rationalized this into a groggy feeling about philosophy as being BORING. Ouch!

So, here's a compliment to everyone on this site: There may be things we disagree on, but one trait that unites us all is that we are not afraid of what lies under the surface, and we proudly live our lives holding this knowledge close.

I then thought that, had she been an Objectivist detective, Lily Tomlin's character would have been jumping up and down shouting, not a warning about looking beneath the surface, but, "Look! Look! It's all around you! It's everywhere and everything, and YES! You are a part of it, so there's nothing to be afraid of!"

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From the previews I saw, the Huckabees seemed like one long giant exploration into Existentialism.  You wouldn't say that this is the case?

This is what I had heard from some friends who saw it also. Granted, these friends don't really know all that much about philosophy. Perhaps I'll check it out. All I have to lose is a couple bucks.

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My thoughts..

The movie was interesting, from a slice of life perspective, in showing how the environmentalists function and rationalize their views. (I know that was not the intention of the movie, and environmentalism is not the theme, but the ideology of the main character and his "pair" and the underlying philosophy beneath environmentalism is the same as that of the movie)

“All things being connected” is the sort of anti-principle that makes environmentalists believe that people driving SUV’s can cause poverty in Africa and winter storms in the US. (They even had a character that believed this.) The characters did recognize the fact that nihilism is wrong, and had some good criticisms of the nihilist sense of life, but their alternative of semi-religious superstition did not have much to offer.

BTW, when it comes to illustrating environmentalism “The Day After Tomorrow” was a really boring and stupid movie. This movie at least had an interesting plot and story, even if it was false art.

Dustin Hoffman’s idiot-guru character and his “blanket” philosophy sounded like an explanation of Plato’s perfect forms. It was the perfect illustration of the fuzzy thinking of many college educated people trying to discover principles. It also illustrated how the left has just as much in the department of religious kooks as the right.

Overall it was an interesting movie to illustrate the current struggle shared by many young people. However, as some people have commented here, it would have been a better movie with an Objectivist alternative philosophy.

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I watched IHH a couple months ago, and I saw absolutely no value to it. As previously pointed out, the entire movie was an advertisment for existentialism. The heroes didn't even realize its destructivness at the end. I did not see simply honest exploration of ideas, but rather one long ode to "the absurd".

Edited by softwareNerd

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