The Wackness (4 stars)

This article is from 2008

The Wackness

(Jonathan Levine, USA) 110min

Jonathan Levine’s follow-up to his superior teen horror flick All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is just as assured a film, although this wigged-out high school movie is greatly enriched by being a far more personal project.

Set in Levine’s hometown of New York City in 1994, the year he graduated from high school, The Wackness focuses on an unlikely friendship between two guys on the verge of a breakdown: semi-suicidal dope-dealing schoolkid Luke (Josh Peck) and his domestically dysfunctional hash-smoking psychiatrist Dr Squires (Ben Kingsley). Their twin meltdowns are set against the backdrop of a celebrated year in hip hop history, when Biggie and Tupac were still alive, but also the period in which Mayor Giuliani was using controversial heavy-handed methods to deal with homelessness and crime in the Big Apple.

Authentic, uncompromising and unapologetic in its depiction of street culture and a city on the verge of change (for the worse), Levine’s film is also a dreamy nostalgia trip to a bygone time. But the sharply drawn characters and vivid performances from a superb cast (which also includes Olivia Thirlby, Famke Janssen, Mary-Kate Olsen and The Wu Tang Clan’s Method Man) crystalise this frequently hilarious and finally very affecting film. Definitely the dopeness.

Cineworld, Fri 20 Jun, 6.30pm & Sat 21 Jun, 9.45pm, £8 (£6.40).

The Wackness

  • 3 stars
  • 2008
  • USA
  • 1h 38min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Jonathan Levine
  • Written by: Jonathan Levine
  • Cast: Ben Kingsley, Josh Peck, Famke Janssen, Olivia Thirlby, Mary Kate Olsen, Method Man

At the heart of this voyage into nostalgic romanticism and teenage growing pains is an unlikely friendship between teenager Luke (Peck) and pot-smoking psychotherapist Dr Squires (Kingsley). It's the summer before Luke ventures to university and he's struggling to make the transition into adulthood, whilst in total…