The Wackness (15)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner20/06/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 110 mins

Enjoyable, offbeat buddy comedy / drama with a sharp, witty script and strong performances from Josh Peck and Ben Kingsley.

What's it all about?
Set in the summer of 1994 (shortly after Kurt Cobain's suicide), The Wackness stars a Josh Peck as Luke, a high school student and part-time drug dealer who's depressed because his family are on the brink of eviction. Something of a social outcast at school, Luke develops an unexpected friendship with one of his customers, Doctor Squires (Ben Kingsley), a psychoanalyst who gives Luke therapy in exchange for marijuana.

Squires is equally depressed, because his marriage (to Famke Janssen) is on the rocks, so he starts accompanying Luke on his dope rounds in the hopes of getting stoned or laid, particularly when he meets free-spirited Union (Mary-Kate Olsen). However, Squires is also stepfather to the girl Luke lusts after (Juno's Olivia Thirlby as Stephanie), which makes things awkward when Luke and Stephanie start hanging out.

The Good
Josh Peck is superb as Luke, demonstrating impressive versatility – indeed, he's practically unrecognisable from the fat, thick-headed bully he played in Mean Creek. It's also a testament to Peck's performance that Kingsley doesn't completely steal the film, because Sir Ben is on fine form here, creating a likeable screw-up who's both good and bad for Luke at the same time.

There's also strong support from Olivia Thirlby (fast becoming the indie chick du jour) and Jane Adams as one of Luke's quirky clients, while Mary-Kate Olsen makes a strong impression in her few scenes as Union (although her making out with Ben Kingsley may be a bit too much).

The Great
The Wackness also has a terrific soundtrack that will induce happy, nostalgic flashbacks to anyone who was a student in the early 1990s. The setting is deliberate, as mix tapes, hip-hop, drugs and Giuliani's New York all play a key part in the film, to intriguing effect.

Worth seeing?
The Wackness is an enjoyable, well-written comedy-drama with terrific performances from Josh Peck and Ben Kingsley. Recommended.

Film Trailer

The Wackness (15)
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Content updated: 21/07/2018 16:38

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