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The Wackness

Released: 2008

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 1 hr 39 min

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Jonathan Levine

Starring: Ben Kingsley, Josh Peck, Famke Janssen, Olivia Thirlby, Mary Kate Olsen, Method Man

A coming-age-story set in the mid-1990s.

The Wackness is more affecting than one anticipates.

Review by: TomElce

Added: 7 years ago

The Wackness plays more naturally than many of its peers in the so-called coming-of-age mould, crafting sympathetic, authenticized characters and showing their lives as they known then unravelling direct before the camera. Writer-director Jonathan Levine and cinematographer Petra Korner achieve the aesthetic glory that the dreadful Step Up 2 the Streets limply attempted in the same year while Levine weaves a story equally relatable and narratively appealing. For drug-dealing teenager Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck), the summer of 1994 represents a profound change in his life that all adults who see the film will have likely experienced. Just out of high school and with college looming over the horizon, Luke still isn't entirely comfortable in his own skin, something that means difficulties when he begins to form a strong bond with the same-aged Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby), the stepdaughter of the psychotherapist (Ben Kingsley) that counsels Luke and also purchases drugs from him.

For Luke, passage into adulthood and sexual awakening comes at the same time, Levine capturing his growth wonderfully, refusing to iron out the awkwardness of human interaction so often absent from more marketed studio fare (rather than present a simple protag-gets-the-girl film, Levine puts forth moments of immense embarassment and opposing emotional reactions that are far more believable). Emotionally, The Wackness is more affecting than one anticipates going in, putting you into the moment with the pitch-perfect, nostalgic-to-the-nineties musical soundtrack and truly human creations. As a film of unsanitized romance, The Wackness boasts a standout moment far more romantically powerful than anything of the overrated, inferior Slumdog Millionaire; Though their feelings for each other aren't exactly on a level, the sequence in which Stephanie and Luke share their first kiss is beautifully shot and acted (Thirlby and Peck share a great chemistry) -- one of several components that forgives Wackness's sometimes in-your-face characterizations and more obviously by-the-numbers elements.