Out Now On-Demand
In the summer of 1994, the streets of New York are pulsing with the sounds of Hip Hop and the sweet, sweet aroma of marijuana. Luke (Josh Peck) is a socially uncomfortable teenage pot dealer, with no friends, who trades weed for some sessions with his therapist, Dr. Squires (the great Ben Kingsley).
Dr. Squires, whose much-younger wife (Famke Janssen) is slipping away, joins Luke on a quest to get laid. The duo traverse New York, meeting some of Luke’s ‘business associates’ – a dreadlocked pixie (Mary-Kate Olsen), a New Wave keyboard-playing one-hit-wonder, and his dealer (Method Man). Luke, meanwhile, has a massive crush on Squires’ step-daughter (Juno’s Olivia Thirlby).
Audience Award winner at Sundance Film Festival 2008.
Rating: R18 contains sex scenes and offensive language
The best thing about The Wackness is that any effort made to keep things interesting and artistic is displayed up there on the screen. The gleaming visuals, the period lingo, the elements of fantasy (the sidewalk slabs that light up like a disco dance floor) – all create a sense of atmosphere and a personal vision of New York City in the summer of 1994. The film carves its own identity.
It’s a great concept for a buddy comedy too – a young gormless pot dealer and his immature therapist. They make a memorable combo, brought to life with unique performances by Josh Peck and Ben Kingsley, respectively. Humour zings and it’s nice to see two deeply flawed – almost unattractive – protagonists causing mayhem.
Awkwardness arrives when the genre detours via ‘romantic comedy’ and takes a left turn into Sexville. Teen Sex. Not just once, but thrice. All eventualities are considered – nothing happening, too much happening too fast, sun-drenched shags in outdoor showers, you name it. And, if we’re being picky, the film’s final third is rather saggy and morose - possibly in need of one of Dr Squires’ prozac pills.
But The Wackness has a lot going for it otherwise. The mad cool hip-hop soundtrack, the sardonic wit, and Ben Kingsley’s oddball performance– all combine to create a unique coming-of-age tale.
Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)
Dominion Post (Graeme Tuckett)
Los Angeles Times
New York Times
NZ Herald (Francesca Rudkin)
Total Film [UK]
TV3 (Daniel Rutledge)
That aint wack...
That aint wack...
Kingsley is superb! A wee gem of a film, great for reminiscing - go with a few friends so you can talk about old times afterwards, we did! A highlight of my movie going this year.