IMDb > The Wackness (2008) > Reviews & Ratings - IMDb
The Wackness
Quicklinks
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
Overview
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guide
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
Promotional
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

Reviews & Ratings for
The Wackness More at IMDbPro »

Write review
Filter: Hide Spoilers:
Page 1 of 8:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [Next]
Index 77 reviews in total 

97 out of 131 people found the following review useful:

The Wackness > All The Real Girls

9/10
Author: quelindofilms from United States
4 July 2008

This might get me into trouble with the film elite, but I found this film so much more real and absorbing than David Gordon Green's "All The Real Girls." They both deal with young men coming of age thanks to first love, but this film has such superior performances and writing. Expertly directed and stacked with some of the best hip hop of the nineties, it's a film that is hilarious, sad and moving, populated with great characters you'll enjoy spending a couple of hours with.

I really wish a film like this had found me in my teenage years, because it's so refreshing and honest. It's nice to watch a movie that celebrates the time honored art of owning and embracing the pain that makes you who you are.

People whine and bitch about the glut of hollow Hollywood formula flooding the marketplace, but a great little film like The Wackness with a strong voice is not getting the support it deserves.

The entire theater loved it, as did my friends I brought along who knew nothing about it.

Do yourself a favor and go see The Wackness. You won't be disappointed.

Was the above review useful to you?

82 out of 109 people found the following review useful:

Kingsley and Peck craft a new classic coming-of-age tale

8/10
Author: larry-411 from United States
14 March 2008

"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.

Was the above review useful to you?

42 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

Far from wackness.

7/10
Author: come2whereimfrom from United Kingdom
3 August 2008

From Luke's opening monologue set to the strains of old school hip-hop through to a beautifully crafted story that is both poignant and funny and Ben Kingsley's wonderful turn as psychiatrist Dr. Squires this film is a winner. Set in New York in 1994 the story follows Luke Shapiro as he graduates school and becomes a dope dealer full time. It's a coming of age drama of sorts but equally as he is struggling to come to terms with embarking on life after school, parents, peer pressure and girls his psychiatrist Dr. Squires, who he deals to in exchange for counselling, is also coming to terms with growing old, a failing marriage and drug dependency. The two form an unlikely bond, Luke is in love with Dr. Squires step daughter and Dr .Squires wants to recapture his lost youth which opens the way for some charming and damn funny moments. Kingsley plays the good doctor like a cross between 'The Big Lebowski's' the dude and a drug addled Terry Nutkins, it's a great role and another that shows just how versatile he is as an actor. Luke is played by local boy Josh Peck and as well as being a perfect foil for Kingsley he is also great in his own right, very reminiscent of the lead from Thumbsucker all floppy haired and wide eyed. The music mostly nineties hip-hop, like A Tribe Called Quest and Notorious B.i.g to name but a few is balanced with classic rock as the two now friends swap mix tapes. Well paced and effortless in its execution this should be as big as say 'Juno' but due to its content and drug references it probably won't be, but don't let that put you off seeing this great little film.

Was the above review useful to you?

45 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

wonderful. . . a must see. . . and, to quote my mother, "extraordinary"

10/10
Author: Jimi Sunshine from Nunaurbisnis
6 July 2008

This film was everything a movie should be. Great direction, acting, writing, and everything else! The acting was superb. Josh Peck really showed that not only is he a wonderful comical actor, but he is an incredible dramatic actor, as well. He was just perfect in this role, and he was able to carry the film with ease. Hopefully we will be seeing a whole lot more of this actor, for he has given the breakthrough performance of the year. Ben Kingsly was, as usual, great. He provides a comical character and creates a character so entertaining, you can't help but smile once he appears on screen. Olivia Thirlby worked very well as Peck's love interest, and Mary-Kate Olsen showed that she has the potential to break away from her child star mold and start a promising film career.

And while some reviews expressed that the use of 1994 (the year the film takes place in) and all the references to that time were annoying, I found them quite funny and enjoyed such references as mentions of a 90210 episode that I recently watched!

The story of a drug-dealing teen's relationship with his shrink/client and his relationship with the shrink's daughter is a truly enthralling one. It felt much shorter than is was and I hope to see it again soon! I loved everything about this film and hope that it becomes the independent film that makes it big this year, just as Juno did last year! It definitely deserves high praise!

Was the above review useful to you?

55 out of 90 people found the following review useful:

A dopey Jewish boy pseudo gangsta with a nerdy sweet smile

9/10
Author: Chris Knipp from Berkeley, California
19 July 2008

The success of 'The Wackness' is fragile. If you can hear that phrase right--the wackness, the movie will probably work for you. That's enough: the wackness. It almost feels like writing about it will crush it. Things don't seem to fly at first. Here we are. Okay, there's this high-school graduate called Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck). He lives on the Upper East Side of NYC but his father's had an economic disaster and they're threatened with banishment to New Jersey. The older generation's approaching meltdown and the youngsters are about to move on. Much about 'The Wackness' sounds routine. The coming-of-age story, the nerdy kid who wins over the cute girl, the constantly feuding parents, the offbeat shrink sessions, the nostalgia for a period recently gone. Why does it work? The simple answer: Josh Peck, who plays the young man, Luke Shapiro. Peck, who's tall and a bit chubby (he was a flat-out fat boy in Mean Creek and the TV kid comedy series "Drake & Josh"), wonderfully steers along on the edge between nerdy and cool and the result is irresistibly charming. However self-conscious Luke's lines may be at times, Peck's timing and delivery turn them into gold. Luke's relationship with the messed-up shrink Dr. Squires (Ben Kingsley), who trades him therapy for good bud, is endearing too, but Squires is close enough to being a real mess so it's not too cute. It's the summer of 1994 in hiphop graffiti New York just at the moment when Mayor Giuliani came to wipe out "quality of life crimes" and drain the sleaze and the color out of Times Square. Probably the writer-director (Jonathan Levine) was this age then. Words like "dope" and "wack" and "yo" and "what up" fly through the air with abandon. The movie pushes the same slang words too hard, and mentions Giuliani more than it needs to. And what's with "mad"? Did they really say that? "You're mad out of my league." "I got mad love for you shorty. I want to listen to Boyz2men when I'm with you," says Luke to Stephanie (Olivia Thrilby). (They trade mix tapes.) It's a heat wave, so he says "It's mad hot." The dialog is mad free with "mad." Accurate or not, the New York-Nineties references are a bit more constant and self-conscious than they need to be. At first some of the more prominently noticeable visual business also seems over-the-top: a teenager selling masses of weed out of a decrepit ice cream cart and trading it for therapy; the shrink's giant glass bong which he lights up in his office during a session. But, whatever, as the blas Stephanie would say. It still works, because the main characters are endearing and their dilemmas are true to life. The thing is, Luke needs to get laid. Squires offers a hooker, not pills, for this issue. The doctor himself takes a kaleidoscope of antidepressants to cope with being a mess and having a sexy young wife (Famke Janssen) on the verge of leaving him. The solution of Luke's problem turns out to be convoluted because Stephanie, who accepts to hang out with him and then teaches him to make love, is Squires' own step-daughter. That's tricky for Squires. He has problems of his own. He has one big one: he's afraid life is passing him by. No obvious role model though a pal to Luke, he's such a mess he lusts after teenage girls himself, and smooches with Mary-Kate Olsen in a phone booth. This, by the way, was the day when drug dealers still used pagers and pay phones. And even if the Giuliani theme is pushed as are the "what up's," nonetheless Squires' dishevelment and Luke's selling drugs out of a cart are logical figments of the fading pre-Giuliani New York, and that fading sleaze is like the fading of Luke's virginity as his "nasty thoughts," which he says he enjoys, yield to real experiences of sex and to the pain of falling in love when it's not returned. By now it may be redundant to say it, but Josh Peck makes Luke's mixture of vulnerability and bravado, very real. The plot turns out to be not so much clichd as simple and true. When Luke's heart gets broken, it really hurts to watch it. Though the drug distributors Luke gets his marijuana from--and he sells many large bricks of it that summer in hopes of saving his parents' apartment--are conventionally high-powered guys with machine-guns and Jamaican accents, ninety percent of the time Levine keeps his story low-keyed and doesn't strain for effects. And he doesn't need those, because Josh Peck's and Ben Kingsley's line readings sing out enough to make any movie memorable. As one blogger puts it, Luke's "kind of dopey pseudo-gangsta, but nerdishly sweet smile managed to convey both the character's pretense and genuine good nature." All the English Peck puts on his lines reflects his character's efforts to strike a pose, but the "nerdishly sweet smile" instantly undercuts the poses and makes them endearing. He's functional enough. Stephanie has taken some small interest in him, enough to want to hang out despite her having been "mad out of my league" in high school. And he must have got dealing dope down if he can make $26,000 in some heavy weeks of the summer. But he's in need of an attitude adjustment. This is how Stephanie puts it: "I see the dopeness; you only see the wackness." He's been faking it and now he needs to make it. He needs to love life. And suffer pain. And she gives him both opportunities. This is pretty well how the world is for a young dude. When it hurts to watch Luke suffer, it hurts in a good way. P.s. Jane Adams is mad fly as Elanor, an ex-musician pothead. Her ingenious excuses for constantly scoring weed are as good as anything in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest.

Was the above review useful to you?

37 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

A lovely film

9/10
Author: InterLNK from Toronto, Canada
7 July 2008

I walked into this film with 0 expectations having received pre-screener passes from a local record store. This is a beautifully filmed true to life story which I felt held very deep meaning about the beauty that is the start and end of relationships. We follow the summer of two very different men in who are in very similar mindsets dealing with the personal crises, quiet pleasures, new experiences, and endless repetition that is life. This is a realistic and philosophical film that the label "comedy" does not do justice, but there are steady laughs throughout the film, especially for those of us who grew up in the 1990s. Only let-down was Mary-Kate Olsen, who I simply couldn't buy in her role, fortunately, it's a very small part.

Was the above review useful to you?

27 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Focus on the Dopeness, not the Wackness

10/10
Author: Simon Parker from United Kingdom
4 September 2008

The Wackness is one of those rare movies that I go into the cinema not knowing next to anything about. Apart from a relatively unimpressive TV Spot I had seen I really didn't know what to expect. In fact it wasn't until the day before I was going to see it that I actually had any interest in seeing it. So I entered the cinema knowing Josh Peck (from that dreadful Drake and Josh show) and Ben Kingsley were starring. That was the extent of my knowledge. Two hours later I left the cinema feeling extraordinarily happy, in fact this movie made me smile more than most other movies have made me this year. While it isn't the funniest movie ever the movie does make you feel good about life. Perhaps the negative things that happen to the characters and how they overcome them that made me feel so good, or maybe it was the brilliant direction and script, or maybe, just maybe this is one of those rare movies that can be classed as a masterpiece. Anyway the fact is at the moment that this is my current second favourite movie of the year, behind The Dark Knight of course. The performances here are extremely top notch, I have no idea why I ever doubted Josh Peck in the role. I suppose Drake and Josh had destroyed all my images of him ever being a serious actor, which is stupid because I remember how brilliant he was in the highly under-watched Mean Creek. But this movie belongs to Sir Ben Kingsley as Peck's psychiatrist/friend/man he sells dope to. Kingsley is hilarious yet also oddly touching in a role not many actors could pull off. His story arc is played through extremely well, and whenever he is on screen the movie is a true revelation. But extra credit must go to the director, who has made an unoriginal tale seem so vivid and original its extraordinary.

Anyway as I said Josh Peck was an extremely pleasant surprise as Luke. Peck really proves himself as an actor in this movie, in fact to the extent that I believe he could potentially gain an Oscar nomination in future years, not for this movie though, he's good not that good. Peck delivers some pretty amusing lines pretty easily, but where he really shines through is the more dramatic sequences. A scene at the beach towards the end sees him deliver a killer of a performance. It also helps that he has considerable chemistry with Sir Ben Kingsley. Seriously I would love to see them in a movie together after this performance. Anyway Sir Ben Kingsley. I admit to not being much of a fan of him. Despite him delivering a good performance in Gandhi, which I have always regarded as overlong, tedious and way overrated, nothing else really stood out in my eyes. It also doesn't help his performance in Thunderbirds still haunts me to this day. However I honestly want him to get an Oscar nomination for his performance here. He is brilliant. This is the only movie you will probably see him kissing an Olsen, using a bong, and getting high a lot. His storyline is the best thing in the movie, and whenever he is on screen the movie goes from very good, to incredible. Olivia Thirlby delivers almost an equally as impressive performance as Peck. She makes a potential two dimensional character quite possibly more than three dimensional! Her character is never dull, not a stereotype, and her very final scene with Peck really is one of the films many highlights. Famek Janssen seems to have drawn the short straw in this movie, unfortunately she gets barely any screen time. A shame since her character does actually get very interesting in the middle of the movie, yet she seems a bit wasted, despite an above average performance.

The true power of The Wackness however comes from the way it is written, and also the direction. I was four in 1994, so am probably not the best person to talk about the time the movie is set, at this time I was still running around in my Power Rangers pyjamas! Anyway the music and the way people talk in the movie seem pretty accurate by my accounts, and also there are moments the feel of the movie seems pretty right. Anyway enough about that, the script here is the key. As I have said before the storyline isn't exactly original, in fact when it all boils down to it the movie is a simple coming of age tale. Still the script here makes the storyline seem refreshing. Peck is made to be extremely sympathetic, even when he is at his mopiest. Kingsley's character gets all the best lines of course, but his more dramatic moments once again show the level of thought gone into the character. The movie doesn't start off in the best way though, the first ten minutes are admittedly not what I really expected and left me a bit dumbstruck. Most namely a dance on the subway, which the more I think about the more I like. Anyway by the end you do feel genuinely happy and also impressed. There were seven people in my cinema screen, only me and my friend really laughed in it, but this is still a movie I urge people to see.

The Wackness is probably the biggest surprise for me of the year and one I cannot wait to buy on DVD. It won't make mega bucks at the cinema, but this really deserves to be watched more than it has been so far.

Was the above review useful to you?

28 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

Left Me Feeling Quite Melancholy, but Satisfied

7/10
Author: ericjams from United States
6 July 2008

The Wackness is an extremely difficult movie to figure out. On one hand, writer/director Jon Levine paints a captivating story around the friendship of two identifiable protagonists in depressed teenage drug dealer Luke Shapiro, played by an up-to-the-task Josh Peck, and eccentric shrink, Dr. Squires, played by a barely up to the task Ben Kingsley. On the other hand, the script itself struggles to find a tone largely fumbling the 1994 NYC setting and ultimately dabbling with dark comedy, philosophy 101, and drug/party filled 90s teenage musings without really nailing down any thematic voice. The movie does succeed in escaping its hazy plot lines and sophomoric personalities with several great one-liners, some decent character development, and a conclusion that left me satisfied but nevertheless a bit sad --which is not a bad thing. Of the 80% filled NYC theater I saw it in, 10 people walked out, the rest applauded at the end. Its that kind of movie.

One of the biggest problems with the movie is its failure to use the 1994 New York City setting to its fullest. As a product of this time and place I felt cheated because Mr. Levine chooses to exploit tid-bits of the culture without ever really showing any substance. We hear references to Kurt Cobain and Phish, we see Luke playing Nintendo NES, we hear a good selection of Biggie, Wu-Tang Clan, and Tribe Called Quest and several references to the Guliani gestapo police, but Levine failed to create a teenage period piece to rival Dazed and Confused, Kids, or Mallrats to name a few more recent ones. The cinematography is good, and adds a vintage type feel to the NYC background, but as a cultural snapshot of a time in NYC history, this movie falls flat.

However, Levine was perhaps preoccupied with a greater goal than a period piece. Shapiro and Dr. Squires are not easy characters to support. Shapiro is a bulk sales weed dealer, with no friends, and a stunted sex life. I think many people will be able to relate to him either directly or indirectly and will enjoy following his teenage "coming of age" tribulations as I did. Kingsley, as Squires, has a tough role and at times plays the stoner shrink as though he has early onset Alzheimer's disease. Its not an easy role, his character is a walking contradiction who mixes decent psychological advice with occasional moments of idiocy. At times he nails it down, at others he comes across as the drunk uncle at Thanksgiving dinner that we are all a bit embarrassed for, but this was probably Levine's intention. Amidst writing that ebbed and flowed at a mediocre level, the dialog between Shapiro and Squires had some knock outs and worked its way up to a satisfying conclusion. The peripheral characters perform admirably when asked, except for Famke Jannsen who failed to show up for her role as Squires' numb to life wife.

If you have ever turned to the recreational consumption of drugs or any other vice as an escape from life or to just 'deal' with life, you will find both Shapiro and Squires much much much more sympathetic and in some ways touching characters. The story of the young Shapiro and old Squires blends the themes of 'soothing your growing pains through drugs (mostly marijuana)' versus the 'trying to go back to your youth and escape your adulthood' through drugs. People who can appreciate or relate to such plot lines will find this movie much more touching than those who cant.

Was the above review useful to you?

28 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

A Drug Dealer is "God's Lonely Boy"

10/10
Author: madbandit20002000 from Queens, New York, USA
14 July 2008

The coming-of-age genre has been a welcome staple in cinema from the classic monolith "Rebel Without A Cause" to the recent uber-smash "Juno", whose young protagonists are fraught with having old souls while trying to make a place in the world, despite pressure and apathy from their peers and parents.

One newcomer is high school grad Luke Shapiro, played with urban wisdom and smooth shyness by NYC native Josh Peck, in Jonathan Levine's funky yet poignant film, "The Wackness". In New York City, during the summer of 1994, then-mayor Rudolph Giuliani (before his shameless, self-adoration after the Sept 11 attacks; the WTC towers make a haunting CGI appearance here) waged a no-nonsense war against quality of life crimes so tourists wouldn't gag while seeing homelessness, public inebriation, prostitution or drug trafficking. Phoniness: a religion of the moron.

His parents strapped for cash (due to his dad's badly thought-out, "get rich quick" schemes), Shapiro slyly flips the bird at the system by selling marijuana out of a beaten up ice cream cart, with a boom box (that's an over-sized radio/cassette player to you tadpoles) attached to it, playing the likes of rap acts like A Tribe Called Quest, Biggie Smalls and DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will "The Fresh Prince" Smith. Great idea, but since when did drug dealers, aside from Frank Lucas from "American Gangster", ever had great ideas? Ergo, Luke's a lone wolf, ever since school. A subtle, near-silent applause is given when he gets his diploma. He sits over an awning, looking down at the partiers at a post-graduation soiree he wasn't invited to, but asked to supply the weed. If you know how he feels, don't be ashamed to cry. I know I did.

Fortunately, Luke's best client is his shrink, Jeff Squires (a madcap, mercurial Sir Ben Kingsley, who should get Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actor), who gives him dubious advice ("Get laid") while taking a quarter of grass as payment. However, Squires doesn't take well to Luke's infatuation with his step-daughter, the high class Stephanie ("Juno's" Olivia Thirlby, also a NYC native). Sometimes, first loves aren't the best ones.

If you think the film's about a Jewish kid immersing himself in hip-hop culture, you're so wrong. An audience award winner at both the Sundance and Los Angeles film festivals, "The Wackness", an earnest attempt to adapt "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger, is the first coming of age piece that reminiscently focuses on the 1990s, making refs to "Beverly Hills 90210", the late rocker Kurt Cobain, the pulsating (and better) rap music and Giuliani's near-fascistic and racist mayoral reign (like me, a NYC resident, Squires sees it as a basic and pathetic hiding of the symptoms of society's ills). Graffiti font is made as opening credits, respected by Levine, whose script is alive (also should get nominated) and direction is competent cool and quick in a drug-like haze.

His actors are reliable, like Mary-Kate Olsen as a squirrel-brain, hippie chick, rapper Method Man as Luke's Caribbean-accented boss, Famke Janseen (the X-Men trilogy) as Squires's frigid trophy wife and David Wohl and Talia Balsam as Luke's bickering parents. Even Jane Adams is pretty cool as a one-hit musician-cum-stoner. Personally, the film's narrative is an attractive, alternative version of my own of trial by fire.

That comes down to Peck, a grad from the tween sitcom "Drake and Josh", who perfectly echoes Robert DeNiro and John Cusack from their lead roles in "Taxi Driver" (Mr. Levine was the assistant of the film's writer Paul Schrader) and "Say Anything". Sure, Luke's cool beyond cool, but he's an old man in a young man's body, a mirror image to Kingsley's Squires, who has trouble in his marriage. Thirbly, as Stephanie, nicely reps fear behind careless hedonism: When Luke's honest about his feelings for her, during a rendezvous on Fire Island, she finds it holographic, not noticing she's talking about herself while being with "God's lonely boy."

With its' drug use, urban vibe and stark individualism, I don't know if "The Wackness" will be 2008's "Juno" (IT COULD!!!), but I do know it's a honest film.

Was the above review useful to you?

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The Dopeness...

10/10
Author: dee.reid from United States
12 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The Wackness" is an amusingly clever film from writer-director Jonathan Levine. It's a comedy, it's a coming-of-age story, it's a love story, it's about hip-hop, it's about selling pot and it's also about learning to see things in a more positive light, seeing things in "the dopeness" as opposed to "the wackness." It has a cast of fresh young faces mixed with seasoned pros. It's just a fun time all around.

In the summer of 1994 in New York City, the girls were still fly, the music was still dope, and Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck of TV's "Drake & Josh") is a lonely pot-dealing teenager running around the streets of NYC applying his trade in a beat-up ice cream cart and boombox by his side the summer before he heads off to the university. Between selling pot, dealing with his bickering parents and off-beat sessions with his therapist Dr. Jeff Squires (Ben Kingsley, whose Dr. Squires probably needs more help than Luke does), he is also carrying on a budding romantic relationship with the man's party-girl stepdaughter Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby). And somewhere in there, Stephanie shows Luke to see the brighter side of life in NYC, the dopeness, as opposed to the wackness side of life in NYC.

"The Wackness" is one of the better coming-of-age stories to come out in recent years. I guess it's because of the movie's freshness and its first-rate performances, and its music, which includes beats from old-school hip-hop legends such as A Tribe Called Quest, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Nas, Method Man (who also appears as Luke's Jamaican drug connection Percy), the late Notorious B.I.G., and Wu-Tang Clan. (And there's even a few passing references to the then-recent suicide of tragic Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain.) I know that I'm probably going to have to find this soundtrack somewhere. Every song on the soundtrack, while fitting of the time and place, also fits neatly into the background of every scene where it's featured; like when "The World Is Yours" by Nas plays as Luke fantasizes on the subway, "Can I Kick It?" by A Tribe Called Quest plays as Luke deals pot around the city and Squires tries to kick his drug habit, and Wu-Tang Clan's "Tearz" plays as Squires goes on a bender at his beach house.

I think I found a new screen hero in Josh Peck. Josh Peck is great in a performance that makes good use of his innate nerdy-boy looks, his eyes which are continually at half-mast, and perpetually skewed view of life ("the wackness"). It's also interesting to note that as he is a white Jewish teenager who has a deep affinity for hip-hop music (or just music in general), he still listens to cassette tapes as opposed to the more technologically proficient compact discs (CDs). I connected with him the most, probably because I felt like him so much, especially in his relationship with Stephanie. The development of their relationship is portrayed as a gradual process that really lets us get to know and understand both characters and their feelings toward each other.

I also really like how they spend so much time together during the summer of '94, and how she even instructs him in the ways of love-making, eventually leading to one of the most tender love scenes I've ever seen in which someone loses their virginity to someone that they truly love. (How many Hollywood sex scenes between teenagers would be so true-to-life in the fact that the characters don't actually get it right the first time?) Also, there's Ben Kingsley, who's just great and phenomenally funny as the problematic shrink who's intent on living life to its fullest and probably needs more help than any of his clients.

OK, so I had a lot of fun watching this movie. The music was dope beyond compare; it took me back to 1994 when hip-hop was still producing dope beats and still had some dignity. Music in general was good back then, period, not boring and over-produced like it is now. And that's also what makes this movie so appealing: the nostalgia factor. A lot of pot-shots are taken at then-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his cracking-down on the city's drug trade. It just really takes you back to simpler times, "the dopeness."

I finally see "the dopeness" in "the wackness."

10/10

Was the above review useful to you?


Page 1 of 8:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [Next]

Add another review


Related Links

Plot summary Plot synopsis Ratings
Awards External reviews Parents Guide
Official site Plot keywords Main details
Your user reviews Your vote history