Finally a movie about growing up in 1994. Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck), is an 18 year old drug dealer with a messed up life. His parents are broke and constantly fighting, he's graduating high school, he has no friends, and he still hasn't lost his virginity. Did I mention he's also a pot dealer? Even so, Shapiro spends his time selling drugs for money, as well as trading them to Dr. Squires (Ben Kingsly), a local therapist so he can have some one to talk to. Then he meets the step daughter of Dr. Squires, Stepahnie (Olivia Thirlby). Over the next few weeks of his summer, Shapiro experiences, loss, love, lust, friendship, and many things to help him become the man he was meant to be as Dr. Squires undergoes many trials and tribulations himself. In this coming of age story, its not about rising to the top, its just about learning to deal.
Though heavily promoted, Mary Kate Olsen and Method Man hardly appear in this film, but, their appearances, help create the films over all world and believability. Method Man shows him Jamaican acting chops as the Drug Lord Percy, and Mary Kate provides a good foil to the central characters as the free hippie 'Union'. Both are delightful and are placed in the film artistically and are never there longer than they should be.
Josh Peck and Ben Kingsley both give stunning performances and are perfect foils to each others characters. Kingsley is the therapist with deep rooted problems of his own involving his marriage to to Kristen (Famke Janssen) and the world of drugs that his life consists of. You never doubt the existence of his character for a moment, and when he is off the screen, you wonder with all your heart what is happening to him. Josh Peck has become the actor he was meant to be in this film, with stunning sincerity for a comedian, who you emphasize with and feel sorry for no matter how things turn. You want to reach into the screen and help him out with his problems, and when the film is over, you don't want to leave the theater, hoping that more with his character will come up again.
Olivia Thirlby is a nice character as Stephanie, and though her character is well developed, you don't care for her all too much, when other characters problems are much bigger. And Jane Adams as Eleanor is a fun character who seems to represent all the good in New York bound into the body of one person.
Jonathan Levine shows his full chops as a director / writer. The story flows perfectly all the way through, not in a predictable way, but still a fully engaging one. The Cinematography is flawless, dim dark colors, with different tones to reflect the moods, and a soft glow placed on all the lights. The few visual effects that are added to experience feelings, one comes to mind where Luke is walking down the street after dropping off Stephanie, are excellent, and though out of the ordinary, only enhance the fine quality of the film. The Wackness is not one to miss.
Catch "The Wackness" soon in a theater near you.