Thursday, September 11, 2008

THE WACKNESS - a goofy story about stoned losers

THE WACKNESS moves at the lackadaisical langurous pace of the stoners it portrays. Essentially, it's a coming-of-age movie, dressed up as original thanks to its early 1990s setting and its cast of narco losers. For all that, it's still as charmingly goofy as its hero, and despite the occasional ennuis, who doesn't love a story about a broken heart. Josh Peck plays Luke Shapiro, a resourceful kid who sells weed to the popular kids and frets about his parent's financial difficulties. When all the cool kids leave town for the summer he gets his chance with a bored popular girl called Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby). She is genuinely charmed by the guy - as is the audience - and they hang out - but everyone knows it won't last. Shapiro is shepherded through this pivotal experience by his similarly messed-up shrink come client, Dr Squires, who happens to be Stephanie's dad. Squires is basically an infantile pot-head with a failed marriage to a similarly messed up wife (Famke Janssen). The overall message seems to be that life is harsh and messy and that you have to find love and friendship while you can and when you can. It's testament to the Jonathan Levine's script and Ben Kingsley's acting that these goof-ball characters ring true and that we care about them. And after all, they're far nicer, and their own way, far more in touch with reality than the popular kids or the "normal" parents..... 

THE WACKNESS played Sundance where it won the audience award. It was released in the US earlier this uear and is currently playing in the UK. It opens in France on September 24th.

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