The Wackness

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.

Directed by

Written by



Rating: R18 contains sex scenes and offensive language


Official Site

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)


What saves this movie, which won this year's audience award at Sundance, from being boring are performances by two actors who see a chance to go over the top and aren't worried about the fall on the other side.

Dominion Post (Graeme Tuckett)


A smart, occasionally charming and often very funny little film. If you were a fan of Juno or Garden State, you will be very happy to have seen it.

Empire [UK]


An unlikely buddy comedy that comes to life whenever Kingsley appears - he doesn’t so much steal the show as roll it into a fat blunt and smoke it.

Hollywood Reporter


A tightly packed entertainment. It explodes through familiar teen-transition territory with dark ironies, but, all the while, touches are sentiments.

Los Angeles Times


Emulating its hero's recklessly independent spirit, The Wackness aspires to be something more than your average psychiatrist-bashing, dysfunctional-parents coming-of-age dramedy à la "Running With Scissors." It snows us with more visual flash than it knows what to do with.

New York Times


The movie he (Josh Peck) is in, The Wackness, written and directed by Jonathan Levine, makes a good-faith effort to steer clear of such clichés, and succeeds and fails in roughly equal measure.

NZ Herald (Francesca Rudkin)


A celebration of everything that was good and bad about the 90s.

Total Film [UK]


It's not quite da bomb, but this nostalgic throwback to the recent past still has enough phat acting (especially from Sir Ben) and slammin' scenes to seem both fly and fresh. Worth catching? Damn skippy.

TV3 (Daniel Rutledge)


This hazy coming-of-age story is thoroughly charming. It's a fun, dreamy and unique cinema experience that I recommend.

Variety [USA]


The Amerindie annals are over-full of withdrawn male loners hoping to quirk or cathart themselves out of teenage purgatory. But like "Donnie Darko," "Thumbsucker" and a few others, The Wackness treads this familiar terrain with assurance and distinction.

That aint wack...


That aint wack...

Thanks for the movie Flicks. I enjoyed the hilarious 90s jargon that the main characters used and found it sweet, slick and uber-cool.

Peace out...

Totally Dope


Totally Dope

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.