7.0/10
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The Wackness (2008)

It's the summer of 1994, and the streets of New York are pulsing with hip-hop. Set against this backdrop, a lonely teenager named Luke Shapiro spends his last summer before university selling marijuana throughout New York City, trading it with his unorthodox psychotherapist for treatment, while having a crush on his stepdaughter.

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ON DISC
4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Eleanor
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Justin
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Grandpa Shapiro
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Grandma Shapiro
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Bodyguard #1
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Homeless Man
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Kid in Bar
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Storyline

Friendship, love, and coming of age in New York City, summer of 1994. Luke Shapiro has just graduated from high school, sells marijuana, and trades pot for therapy from a psychologist, Dr. Jeffrey Squires. Luke is attracted to a classmate, Stephanie, who's out of his league and Squires' step-daughter. By July, he's hanging out with Stephanie, taking her on his rounds selling pot out of an ice-cream pushcart. Then things take a turn. In the background, Squires and his wife as well as Luke's parents are having their troubles. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Summer 1994. The girls were fly. The music was dope. And Luke was just trying to deal. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive drug use, language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

1 August 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bódulat  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$138,401 (USA) (4 July 2008)

Gross:

$2,077,046 (USA) (17 October 2008)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The hat that Ben Kingsley wears was his own. He grabbed it when he set off to New York to film the movie, thinking it might be useful. See more »

Goofs

As Squires laments on the new New York he quotes Starbucks as an example of the city's Disneyfication. But 1994 was Starbucks' New York debut and they were not yet synonymous with unchecked corporate growth. See more »

Quotes

Luke Shapiro: [on the phone] Peace out, forever!
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Crazy Credits

When the Sony Pictures Classics logo appears at the very beginning and at the very end of the film, the word "classics" is erased and replaced with a graffiti rendering of the same word. See more »

Connections

References Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Can't You See
Written by James Brown, Sean Combs, Joe Howell (as Joseph Howell), Herb Middleton, Terri Robinson (as Terri E. Robinson), Randy Ryan, Mark South, John Starks and Fred Wesley
Performed by Total featuring The Notorious B.I.G. (as Notorious B.I.G.)
Courtesy of Bad Boy Records LLC
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
Sample of "The Payback"
Performed by James Brown
Courtesy of Universal Records
Under licensse from Universal Music Enterprises
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Kingsley and Peck craft a new classic coming-of-age tale
14 March 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"The Wackness," director Jonathan Levine's eagerly-awaited followup feature to "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane," premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and was immediately acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. I wasn't able to catch it at the time. Fortunately, "The Wackness" was presented in a special midnight screening not on the official SXSW Film Festival schedule. It was a special treat and quite an unexpected surprise.

"The Wackness" is basically a two-man show, with Ben Kingsley and Josh Peck as psychiatrist Dr. Squires and his patient Luke Shapiro. The twist? One deals drugs and the other takes them. But guess who buys and who sells? And did I mention that Luke not only doles out weed to his doctor but also dates his daughter? Ahh yes...the plot thickens. Yet Squires and Shapiro forge an unlikely friendship not unlike two college buddies -- the boy is just a bit too mature for his age and the man a bit too immature, and they meet at about the same intellectual level.

Penned by director Levine, it's a complex storyline but "The Wackness" is ultimately a character-driven piece. Kingsley's performance is a tour de farce in a daring and risky role unlike anything we've seen -- this ain't your father's Gandhi. Josh Peck, best known as television's Josh of "Josh & Drake" and to indie lovers as George, the tormented victim in "Mean Creek," is the biggest surprise here. He carries this film on his shoulders like a veteran. Olivia Thirlby ("Snow Angels," "Juno") is delightful as the object of Luke's affection.

Production values belie the film's modest budget, especially given the cost of a location period piece -- "The Wackness" is set in New York City 1994. Music of the era naturally provides the backdrop for the duo's drug-dealing days and party nights. Drugs (selling and taking) seem to be ubiquitous in the films I've seen here at SXSW and "The Wackness'" overindulgence can be hard to watch at times. But what could have strayed into a silly variation on "Dazed & Confused" (or the recent "Charlie Bartlett") is, instead, a touching coming-of-age story as relevant today as ever. The fact that the film remains grounded in semi-reality is a tribute to the talents of Kingsley and Peck in the hands of director Jonathan Levine. This director is a force to be reckoned with now that he has "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane" and "The Wackness" under his belt.


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