NB: I was lucky enough to catch a screening of this indie movie back in early June, and was so taken with it that I posted the preview for you back then. The movie's coming out this Friday, so here's a reminder / rundown of what I thought of it!
First things first: The Wackness is dope. Yes, brush up on your '90s lingo because the next big indie film is set in the sweltering New York summer of 1994! It follows adorable "most unpopular of the popular" teen Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) as he lives out his last summer before college – selling pot, falling in love, finding an unlikely best friend and trying to sort out his parents' problems. The movie's not out until August 29 (UK), but I liked last night's preview so much that I had to post about it now!
The soundtrack is absolutely awesome – from the cheesy yet oh-so-summer strains of Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, to the classic hip hop of Notorious B.I.G and Nas. After last night I know that 90s hip hop and all those rediscovered classics will be the soundtrack to my summer! The film is visually gorgeous too – being set in NYC doesn't hurt it of course – but the cinematography is beautiful and sets the chilled tone of the film.
For more of my thoughts on the movie including some on Mary Kate Olsen, Juno's Olivia Thirlby and Sir Ben Kingsley, and a gorgeous gallery from the film just
After Juno we all know Olivia Thirlby is coolness personified, and in this movie she's also great as Stephanie – the object of Luke's affections – and brings more layers to the table than perhaps her lines or the character gives her. Thirlby is a class act. Mary-Kate Olsen pops up in a couple of scenes, and I really liked her carefree performance - although what's with her and the drug-related TV / movies – Weeds and The Wackness? Anyhow, she was really fun and likeable (with some great Beverly Hills 90210 references).
Sir Ben Kingsley has a lot of fun as Dr. Squires (Stephanie's stepdad), a guy at the same breaking point as Luke but at a completely different stage of his life. Their friendship is ultimately believable and, although I wanted Luke to walk away from this weird old guy, I also cared enough to want Dr Squires to sort himself out.
The stand-out, however, was Josh Peck as Luke – he's definitely one to watch in the future. He played the awkwardness / bravado that teens struggle to balance so beautifully, occasionally cutting through any front his character was pulling with a subtle yet heartbreaking flash of hurt or confusion in his eyes. Having watched him exaggerate and pratfall (in that way kids' sitcoms demand) for years in Drake And Josh I was really impressed with his understated performance.
I think you can tell I loved it. Although it's a bit of a cop-out to compare it to Juno (as it's really not like that movie at all) I loved it in a similar way and I just hope it has some of the same success. The Wackness is a film with a massive heart and really deserves to do well.