Jesus and Petroleum

I finally got a chance to watch “I Heart Huckabees” last night: a fun-enough pop-existential film a couple of notches up from “Garden State.” It probably tries to be a bit too smart (the film centers around a couple of “existential detectives” well-played by Dustin Hoffman and Lili Tomlin), but at least it doesn’t resort to name-dropping–despite ample opportunity to do so in a film that references angst and deconstruction.

But for my money, one scene was worth the price of the rental. Tommy (Mark Wahlberg) and Albert–the existential seekers in the film–end up in the suburban home of a nice Christian family. They sit to dinner with the family but when it becomes apparent that they have a couple of “philosophers” in the house, Dad becomes nervous. The one thing not allowed in their house is questions–no doubts, no anxieties, no sneaking out at night to expose oneself to the yawning abyss, etc. But Tommy and Albert are rife with questions about meaning and justice. And so a snippet of the conversation:

Mrs. Hooten: Albert, what brought you to the philosophical club?
Albert Markovski: You mean the existential detectives?
Mr. Hooten: Sounds like a support group.
Cricket: Why can’t he use the church?
Mrs. Hooten: Sometimes people have additional questions to be answered.
Cricket: Like what?
Albert Markovski: Well, um, for instance – if the forms of this world die, which is more real,the me that dies or the me that’s infinite? Can I trust my habitual mind or do I need to learn to look beneath those things?

Tommy’s particular concern is humanity’s wanton addiction to petroleum that is ravaging the planet and the fine-knit interconnections of the universe. So it doesn’t take him long to castigate Dad for the mammoth SUV in the driveway, remarking how angry God must be with him for not being a better steward of creation–to which the young daughter replies:

Cricket: Jesus is never mad at us if we live with Him in our hearts!
Tommy Corn: I hate to break it to you, but He is – He most definitely is.