Five years after achieving commercial and critical success with his film Three Kings, director and screenwriter David O. Russell returns to the more idiosyncratic territory of his earlier work with this intelligent and offbeat comedy. Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin) are a married couple who run an existential detective agency where they sift through the lives of their clients in order to discover the source of their angst. The Jaffes' latest client is Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman), an environmental activist who has a very large rock and a great deal on his mind; their study of Albert's problems lead Bernard and Vivian to Brad Stand (Jude Law), a public relations executive with a chain of successful variety stores, Huckabees. While publicly allying himself with Albert's environmental initiatives, behind the scenes Brad is running roughshod over responsible land management with little care for the consequences. When Brad learns he's being watched by the Jaffes, he hopes to co-opt them by hiring them himself; however, the plan has unexpected consequences when their questioning leads Brad's girlfriend, well-scrubbed model Dawn (Naomi Watts), into reassessing her life and relationships. Meanwhile, Albert finds himself joining forces with Tommy (Mark Wahlberg), a firefighter and fellow environmentalist who has been having second thoughts about Bernard and Vivian's ideas and methods after a long-term investigation and has since fallen under the spell of nihilist poet and philosopher Caterine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert).
by Mark Deming synopsis