Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Wackness


(No, it's not a still from the movie but I love these group shots that magazines always run after film festivals.)

Set in early 1990's New York when Giuliani was Mayor and hip-hop was still good, The Wackness is an affectionate tale of growing up in a city that's becoming crueler and less interesting. Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) isn't looking forward to college in the fall but plans to spend the summer pocketing money from his low-key pot dealing. Luke's shrink Dr. Squires (Ben Kingsley) is one of Luke's best customers; Squires is a well-meaning but clueless doctor, focused a bit too much on Luke's so far nonexistent sex life. Luke's prospects improve when he meets the Doctor's stepdaughter Stephanie, played by everybody's indie film crush Olivia Thirlby in a performance that deserves a movie shaped around it. There are no easy pot-soaked laughs here, by the end Luke has learned that all he really has to count on is himself. Writer/director Jonathan Levine is a little too interested in Dr. Squires' overripe ramblings, which Kingsley plays with an obscure accent and his usual relish. Thanks to the two leads and the soundtrack The Wackness gets by on charm; it's an ode to a city that's gone forever.

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