NYC. Summer 1994. The girls were fly. The music was dope. And Luke was just trying to deal. Even though 18-year-old Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) is stashing away loads of cash dealing pot, he's still a virgin, his family may be evicted, and his only friend is his eccentric shrink and client, Dr. Jeffrey Squires (Oscar®-winner* Ben Kingsley, Sexy Beast, House of Sand and Fog), who is intent on living life to the fullest. But when Squires' party girl stepdaughter Stephanie (Juno's Olivia Thirlby) opens her heart, Luke learns that love, no matter how long it lasts, can turn a life that is wack, totally dope. With surprising performances from Famke Janssen, Mary-Kate Olsen and Method Man, and a pulsing hip-hop score, this exuberant coming-of-age comedy captures a season of discovery with wit and warmth.
Jonathan Levine's nostalgic reverie recreates a more innocent New York. In 1994, the Twin Towers watch over Manhattan, and Rudolph Giuliani reigns as mayor--not a bestselling author or presidential candidate. Recent high school grad Luke Shapiro (sleepy-eyed Josh Peck, Drake and Josh
) plies the kind of trade Giuliani seeks to discourage: dope dealing. Otherwise, though, Luke's not such a bad kid. He sees a therapist, the pot-smoking Dr. Squires (Sir Ben Kingsley), and nurses a crush on the doctor's flirtatious stepdaughter, Stephanie (Juno
's Olivia Thirlby). Hip-hop fills the air, and Luke spends his days grooving to Nas, the Notorious B.I.G., and A Tribe Called Quest, while selling cannabis out of an ice-cream cart (Wu-Tang rapper Method Man plays his Rasta supplier). As the summer heats up, Luke and Stephanie grow closer, while Squires and his wife, Kristin (Famke Janssen), drift apart. Meanwhile, Luke's family faces eviction if his father's fortunes don't improve, and he finds himself torn between the hot girl, the bummed-out shrink, and a job that could land him in the clink for a good long time--or save the Shapiros from moving to New Jersey. Though Levine (All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
) doesn't judge his law-breaking protagonist, he does suggest that love can make a smart guy lose his head just as easily as lust--and even a trained psychiatrist can't always tell the difference. With Mary-Kate Olsen (Weeds
) and Jane Adams (Happiness
) as the spaciest of Luke's spacey customers. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Stills from The Wackness (click for larger image)