The Wackness
Review written on: May 11th, 2009

The Wackness Review

I wasn’t sure what to expect, going into The Wackness.  I only knew that I liked the majority of Sir Ben Kingley‘s work, and was interested to see the dynamic between Josh Peck and Olivia Thirlby.  I wasn’t entirely sure what the story was about, but felt I wanted to watch it anyway, based on the reviews it got when in the theater.  Though skeptical, because it’s an “independent film”, I still gave it a go.

The Wackness is the story of a teenage pot dealer (Josh Peck), who befriends his completely insane shrink (Sir Ben Kingley), then falls in love with the shrink’s daughter (Olivia Thirlby.)

The film is essentially about how messed up life is, and how people deal with it.  Whether it’s drinking, or drugs, or seeing a shrink.

There’s no twist ending. There’s no explosions, or fist fights or car chases.  There’s no hidden meanings, or elaborate undertones to trick you into enjoying the movie.  And there doesn’t need to be.

While the story felt like an hour and a half of “nothing”, there ultimately is a point to the movie.  It may seem like a depressing tale of what happens to some people, in life, it doesn’t matter.  Ultimately, it’s the tale of trying to succeed in life, when life craps all over you.

Sir Ben Kingley is particularly strange in his role, and nails it on the head. His character is supposed to be slightly nuts, and completely out of his mind. And Sir Ben Kingley does it with a precise science that only he can do.

Josh Peck plays a troubled teenager, who seeks psychiatric help from Sir Ben Kingley‘s character, and ends up with a friend, more so than a shrink.  He’s confused about life, doesn’t know which way to go, and just wants to try to help his parents save their home. He has no ambition, until he realizes that he’s falling in love with Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby), and only wants to be with her.

Some teenage drama ensues. He says he loves her, she says “Yo, dude.” back, and they ignore each other for a while.  It’s sort of representative of teenage relationships where one person’s fully committed, and the other could care less.  It felt very real, in that sense.

The movie takes place in 1994, but was actually filmed and released in 2008. You’d never know it, though. The 1994 felt very real.  From the newspapers people are reading on the train, to the television, to the soundtrack. It’s very authentic to 1994.

I really enjoyed the movie.  I don’t think it needs a second viewing, but I really enjoyed it.  I can’t say that this movie is for everyone, though.  It’s certainly more of an artsy film, than a big blockbuster, which is likely why it’s an independent movie, and wasn’t released nation wide.  I’d say that you’re in the crowd of people who’d like The Wackness if you enjoy movies like Garden State, Half Nelson, Brick or  The Last Kiss.

Oh, and don’t be fooled by the text on the DVD cover.  Mary Kate Olsen, Method Man, and Famke Janssen are in the movie for a total combined time of, virtually, a few minutes.


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