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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)
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From doing spring cleaning to the wackness, in one easy step. I was cleaning, the deep, darker side of dusting and mopping, scrubbing and splashing, when suddenly the bureau drawer I was struggling to open gave way and completely launched itself at least halfway across the floor. In recovering that sucker, I found a long lost notation to check "The Wackness". I could not recall what the note was referring to, but a quick search provided the missing link. The Wackness is rather an outdated film released in 2008. Currently, the year is now 2016. Ah! Instant time warp. I gave myself a needed break from working, and settled down to watch the film. Having said that, let me just state that I am happy I watched, relaxed and feeling pretty good, more so when I decided to take the film's off-beat advice: blunt it. The good feeling made the film all the more clear and enjoyable.
So, The Wackness: What I liked: I liked seeing a film with Sir Ben that was not completely dignified and off beat. I have always enjoyed Ben's work, as a performer he is one of the most talented and endlessly interesting, ever. I found him believable in Gandhi, charming in Driving Lessons, and funny in this film. He has a vast number of successful projects, most if not all award winners. No surprise. He is an amazing persona. I liked the musical references for '90's beat hip hope, and, while I don't always quite understand some of the lyrical references, still the language and beat is representative of a new force in music. I got that "dope" is good, and downlow is sneaky or really private. Took a minute, but I figured that out. I liked Olsen # 1 free-floating clothing and mood; that all fit very well into the casual relationships anchored by one little green plant. And I liked that there was a dog in the film. Not a yappy, snappy bit of fluff, but a dog with some girth. Even on the beach. I liked the little bon mots of knowledge, generational in scope, but universal in commonality. The words may be different, culture to culture, or age to age-but the things we all need to learn to get by rarely, if ever, change so much they are simply no longer able to cross semi-strong barriers of time and place. But of all, I think I really liked seeing Stephanie put in her place. She totally had that coming.
What I didn't like: I didn't like how long it took for Ben and Jeff to really see each other, in and out of various situations. I didn't like some of the length of time between positive moments, for all the players. I really didn't like watching Jeff be completely right about Stephanie; and I did not like that Stephanie's motives turned out to be ruthless. Hard to watch someone really try to be good at something, to impress another, and seeing the desperate behavior mocked and upended.
All in all: The Wackness is a slow-burning effort to demonstrate how, even though we think we know what we're doing most of the time, there are always exceptions to the rule. Pearls among swine, I suppose. There were some decent grains of social awareness running through the film, with just enough push and pull to keep things interesting. The Wackness is not, IMO, a laugh out loud work, nor is it nearly as down and depressing as some may think. It all seemed to even out, a solid 50-50 which is what made me glad I finally had a chance to watch it.
Final Score: A strong 3.8 out of 5, showing here as a 4. I wouldn't say I'd watch it again, but I did rent this on AZ, and I know they'll probably keep it around for re-watching, if I change my mind. Strong performances by the main leads, but all in all, Sir Ben is the one I enjoyed most. And I think as the film wound down, he made an excellent choice for a secondary vocation. FLAP16
I didn't remember the details so it was almost like watching it for the first time.
It was fun to watch.
Ben Kingsley was not so serious in this movie. He was kind of loosing himself, relaxed and enjoying his acting. It was more like a comedy for him.
The relationship between Josh Peck and Olivia Thirlby was fun to watch. Althugh their's becomes quite blur at the end.
The rap songs nicely sustain with the movie and is another enjoyment for watching this wacky movie.
The fact that Josh Peck is a grass dealer doesn't mean that this movie is a serious crime movie but a comedy. Make sure. And I enojoyed as much as you will.
This movie, I thought is not for keeper I thought, though. It's not a great great indie film. It's a good indie film.
Great laughter, along with that classic "summer love" kind of feeling.
Sundance or Telluride version, I guess.
The film was slightly different, edited differently.
That was a good film. Old Man sung at the end by Neil Young.
This film is an inferior version.