Celebs heart offbeat laffer

HOLLYWOOD — It’s not every day preemgoers are treated to a ukulele serenade before the pic unspools, but then again, every pic isn’t billed an existential comedy.

At last week’s “I Heart Huckabees” after-bash, helmer David O. Russell said Jon Brion‘s ditty (sample lyrics: If you want to spend the day worrying what it’s all about/Go knock yourself out) wasn’t intended so much as advice as entertainment.

“I just wanted to do something fun and different, because I like that,” Russell said. “If anything, the studio was saying don’t do it,” he added, “but we did it anyway.”

The helmer said he based Dustin Hoffman‘s existential detective on rumpled Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman — better known in Hollywood as Uma‘s dad — whom he first met during his Amherst days. The two are now working on a sci-fi comedy based on Thurman’s teachings.

Pic’s Naomi Watts and Isabelle Hubert both winged in for Fox Searchlight’s Grove bow and after-fete in one of the mall’s stores — a particularly appropriate setting given the pic’s underlying theme of encroaching suburban sprawl. Also on hand: Mark Wahlberg, who Russell referred to as a “loaded weapon” prior to his soulful comedic turn, plus Spike Jonze, Henry Jaglom and Roman Coppola, along with Laura Dern and Julie Delpy.

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