A close friend of mine recently brought up this movie and I thought I’d take a quick look at it again as a means of winding up the ignorance log portion of this blog; but also as a possible bridge to other nearby blips on the radar. So, I watched it again, and, aside from a lot of very sexy actors and actresses (especially Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman– meow) there’s some interesting philosophical content here as well. If nothing else, I could see using this to teach about portions of the stream of background questions of philosophy as a discipline– questions about being and knowledge and truth and action and beauty and right and wrong.
Also, a lot of the content of this film around the nature of being seems to jibe very closely with Jill Bolte Taylor’ TED presentation, here, particularly when Marky Mark is hitting himself in the face with a rubber ball.
Anyway, I’ll be paying closer attention to this genre of movies as I round out the semester in EDST 597. I’m interested to see what particular philosophical paradigms are most closely associated with Hollywood scripts like this one… Trying to brainstorm some other titles… of course, there’s Into the Wild. Being There (1979) with Peter Sellers is another one that came up in discussing this with my housemates this evening. The Matrix, would be another good one I suppose. But I should define “philosophical” a little more specifically. The Wikipedia article on I [heart] Huckabees, for instance, refers to the film as a “philosophical comedy.” It’s not clear whether “philosophical” is in this case referring to an existing genre or is just an innocent modifier of “comedy.” Such a delimitation along the lines of a genre– even if it’s one I invent myself– would be helpful here. That’s why I’ve been leaning towards “popular philosophy” as the appropriate descriptor. But that makes is sound like self-help books or something.
Perhaps Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life would fit here. Or Life of Brian for that matter. Beyond being didactic, which I Heart Huckabees flirts with occasionally, I’m interested in finding movies which stand up on the merits of their stories. Jaffe and Jaffe (the characters played by Tomlin and Hoffman) are hilarious, apart from their lengthy expository soliloquies. But the focus of the film should take a turn for the more or less explicitly philosophical. It can’t merely be some character espousing a certain philosophy– there has to be some philosophical turn– I want to see a character doing philosophy in the film. Like when Neo is being grilled by Morpheus aboard the Nebuchadnezzar. A sci fi series like the original Star Trek which deals in an episodic fashion with certain philosophical problems might also qualify by this rubric. I suppose a documentary like Examined Life would count as well. Still need to take a look at that one.