The Wackness has the polish of a hip music video with the rawness of a gritty documentary. Imagine if Michael Bay shot a dramatic indie film. The Squid and the Whale for the NES generation, filled with Sex, Drugs and Rap music. The film perfectly captures the mood of the early to mid 90â€™s, referencing anything and everything from gameboys to Biggie Smalls, Giulianiâ€™s overhaul of New York City to the fantastic 90â€™s compilation soundtrack. Levine takes chances, intercutting fantastical dream and musical sequences with a realistic dramatic story.
The Wackness seems slightly reminiscent of Darren Aronofsky’s indie classic from 2000, Requiem for a Dream, implementing great cinematography, pale colors and a washed out palette, and a nostalgic storyline. It really reminds me of the days of Clerks and Reservoir Dogs at Sundance, where the movies are brave and energetic and yet still have that very independent feeling. This is a film for the new generations of moviegoers.
My only problem with this film (and it is pretty small) is that for a film that is so focused on being anti-Giuliani, it never shows exactly how evil Giuliani truly is outside of dialogue about him. Other than that, I absolutely love this film.
This was just a fun movie. I wish I could praise it more but I think I have already made my point. If you have ever experienced the crushing effect of young love, you owe it to yourself to check out this gem of a dark comedy.
Is it too early to declare The Wackness the best film of Sundance 2008? I mean, it’s only day two (or three, if you actually got here on opening day), but I have a hard time imagining a movie I am going to love as completely as I loved this one.
There’s a lot more to say about this movie, including the wonderful supporting turns by Method Man as a Jamaican drug lord and – gasp! – Mary Kate Olsen as a Phish Head, but I’m pressed for time.
Kingsley has a ball with Squires’ gonzo character, getting a bizarre makeout session with none other than Mary-Kate Olsen as a barely-legal Central Park hippie chick. Jane Adams also makes an impression as another pot buyer who clicks with the doctor. Janssen doesn’t get a lot to do, but Thirlby is appealing as a girl both precociously assured and uncertain what she wants. While Peck somewhat oversells the open-mouthed, glaze-eyed stoner act, he’s nonetheless a most appealing protagonist.
Lead actor Josh Peck never once allows the viewer to “like” him, which makes his personal and romantic travails all the more boring. As Luke’s unlikely best pal, Ben Kingsley manages to steal the whole movie with very little effort — but he does it mainly by delivering up some out-of-left-field volleys of one-liner druggie material. Sure, Kingsley is a lot of fun in a broad and amusing way — but I thought we were watching an allegedly poignant film about one kid’s trip from punk to (relative) grown-up
It’s impossible not to laugh watching Sir Ben “Gandhi” Kingsley sporting a very different look and trying to act hip to seem cooler to his young friend Luke, but he ends up acting mostly inappropriate to everyone they encounter, making this one of Kingsley’s more memorable roles in some time.