Thanks to the recommendation by Mr. Wael Bekdach I finally watched The Wackness a couple of nights ago and was blown away. As Wael already promised it had everything I like in a movie: copious amounts of weed, great story, awesome actors (even Josh), phenomenal soundtrack and finally The Wackness managed to capture that spirit of the nineties. Everyone who was growing up during that decade will remember the feeling, just like Dazed and Confused  captured the seventies, this movie captured that vibe and hazy feeling in the air during the nineties (not just the weed). And to make things even better we can see and feel what it means to be in love and all the ups and downs that it brings. Josh Peck was up to the task and I must commend him for his very accurate and emotional portrayal of a teenage boy in love. Of course, with the help of great Ben Kingsley, two of them carried the weight of the movie.
It is 1994 and Luke Shapiro is a lonely teenage boy who sells weed on the streets of New York. He is a bit shy and withdrawn, so he’s having trouble getting a date or finding friends in this big city. His only “friend” is Dr. Squires, a psychotherapist that’s trying to help Luke. Although Dr. Squires is hardly a person to take advice from, he’s charging Luke for his sessions with weed and his marriage is slowly falling apart just as he is. Then, she shows up. Stephanie’s a Dr. Squires daughter, excuse me, stepdaughter and immediately Luke falls in love with her. This is his last summer before he goes away to college and the air has that magical vibe like anything could happen.
At first I was afraid that this will be another artsy movie, disjointed and filled with “metaphors” and other stuff, but it turned out to be firmly grounded. It has no major flaws, although sometimes the writer decided to take shortcuts and there will be a couple of “suspend belief” moments, but the story is so powerful and empathic that you will only realize them later. Josh Peck, a guy with that constant squint in the eye and a half-open mouth, was a perfect fit for the role of a confused teenager with big problems and hormones running high. Wow, I managed to write an entire review without using “coming of age tale”. Dammit.
Director: Jonathan Levine
Writer: Jonathan Levine
Cast: Ben Kingsley, Josh Peck, Famke Janssen, Olivia Thirlby, Mary-Kate Olsen, Jane Adams, Method Man
Fun Facts: The hat that Ben Kingsley wears was his own. He grabbed it when he set off to New York to film the movie, thinking it might be useful.