The Wackness

Jonathan Levine’s semi-autobiographical flick takes you into the life of Luke (Josh Peck), a recent high school graduate spending a sweltering summer dealing drugs in order to get by. He’s an “unofficial” virgin and loyal listener to cassette tapes who describes himself as one of the “most popular of the unpopular” people. At 18 years old, Luke’s biggest problem is getting laid, though his home life and lack of confidence also factor into his issues. Luke soon develops an unlikely friendship with Dr. Squires (Ben Kingsley), an improbable role model with marital woes who goes from being the boy’s customer to becoming his shrink. Both men are in need of friends as they’re not getting laid and are going through some kind of crisis (whether it be a quarter-life crisis or the typical midlife crisis). As Luke exchanges weed for therapy sessions, Squires finds himself reliving the teenage years he fucked up and starts taking on the streets of New York with Luke at a time when a newly elected Rudolph Giuliani cracked down on drugs, graffiti and rap music. Although the story’s lacking a little and is slow-paced at times, its emotional core is there, and it still succeeds thanks to its hilarious one-liners and endearing performances. Somehow, The Wackness evolves into this beautiful mess and it’s evident why the indie flick was a Sundance favorite. ***
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