The Wackness is set in the summer of 1994. It opens in a psychiatrist’s office, where our lead character Luke Shapiro is talking to the man behind the desk, Dr Squires. Before long, though, we find out that Squires is in fact buying weed from Luke. That’s how they meet, but the fact is they go from dealer and customer, to psychiatrist and patient, to friends. It’s really the main element of the story and it progresses very organically throughout.
Luke is unlucky in love, and most people at his school just use him for his drug connection. His final year of school is coming to an end, and he is about to graduate. Squires has been married ten years, and has a step daughter in the same year at school, Stephanie. His marriage is on the rocks, and with it his life is slowly crumbling too. The pair inevitably become entwined, and they are on hand to try and help each other out. Of course, it doesn’t always go to plan.
The story focuses on these two characters in a big change in their lives, and they both play the elements they are presented with beautifully. Ben Kingsley as Squires is a perfect casting, and shows him lending his hand to yet another fantastic role. On the other hand though, we have Josh Peck as the nervous Shapiro, whose only other role I can call to mind is one half of the team Drake and Josh. To be honest, I didn’t even know until I looked at the IMDB after the film. I thought Drake and Josh was an awful creation and should surely be a career ruiner. Of course, I was clearly wrong, as Peck is in this huge indie film with Sir Ben Kingsley. The less said about Drake Bell, however, the better.
Josh Peck is not only impeccable in this film, but I was actually surprised to the point of having no words when I found he was in that Nickelodeon fiasco. Showing true acting flair he adapts to this part incredibly well and is one of the most well rounded characters I have seen the entire festival. He is definitely an actor to watch, but to be honest, I’d come back to him in a few years, after the big screen adaptation of Drake and Josh hits the screens.
The direction and writing is superb, Jonathan Levine doing a spectacular job with his seemingly quite regular cinematographer Petra Korner on board. His last film had the worst title of all time, especially for a teen slasher flick, so I didn’t even bother going. Still, he has proved himself to me at least here as not only a competent director, but possibly even a great one. In addition, his writing is superb and he does an excellent job of mixing the humour in with the more emotional scenes, and definitely gives the pair of leads a good script to blend with.
The Wackness is essentially a slacker flick, a film where people who don’t know what they are doing with their lives warm their way into our hearts and minds. It’s great, it truly is, and the soundtrack goes a long way to setting the scene of the timeline and feeling of the film. The actors that surround the leads include an interesting turn from Mary-Kate Olsen, a great little bit part from Method Man, an effortless yet well played Mrs Squires by Famke Janssen and a good turn from Olivia Thirlby as the love interest for Luke. All in all a good cast, led by some great music and a fantastic script makes for a very, very good film.
Trust me, The Wackness is dope.