Overlooked Film of the Week- #35
"The Wackness" is one of those movies I really wished people saw. Its a movie with a lot to offer, something that I feel any person could learn from, you can take nearly anything away from it. I've said recently that I love a good coming-of-age story, and I think "The Wackness" is best that sub-genre has to offer from the last 10 years. It's a very simple story. Luke (Josh Peck) is a recent high school graduate having his last summer before he starts college, and he's also down on his luck. He sells marijuana to help support his poor family, and he trades marijuana for therapy with a psychiatrist (Ben Kingsley). He also happens to fall for the psychartrist's stepdaughter and his former classmate Stephanie (Olivia Therby). The whole movie is this one last summer before college, how he handles his romance with Stephanie and how he quickly learns his psychiatrist needs Luke just as much as Luke needs him.
"The Wackness" hit me on a very personal level because this movie came out the summer before I went off to college. While I was very excited about the prospect of going to college, I was also a bit nervous. Lots of things change for a person as the go off to college and that can cause anxiety, and I thought the film showcased that very well. Not only that, but I personally was in a committed relationship with a girl from high school at the time, and I was very nervous about where our relationship would go. I was going off to college and she was going through her senior year at our high school and the idea of being far away was nerve-wracking. I personally identified with Luke right away, and his need to find a way to make it work with Stephanie as the summer months closed down. The film does a good job of highlighting the anxieties as well as excitement of going to college and I loved that about the film.
I also loved that it was a movie full of people I usually don't care for, but they all did a good job. I never thought Josh Peck had much range, and I found it ironic that he was playing a drug-dealer because (no offense) he looks like a pothead. But he plays that up with an effect that was so perfect that it made the film. Mary-Kate Olsen makes an appearance, but she does well with her limited screen time. Ben Kingsley is always great and he was great here. I also found Therby to be a very good fit for Peck's Luke. I also loved Method Man's brief time onscreen and his totally believable Jamaican accent. Movies like this are driven by their acting, and the acting was top-notch.
So if you are going to college soon, and if your feeling nervous about it. I think it would pay off to check out "The Wackness." I hope more people notice this movie and I hope it touches audiences the way it has touched me. It has a lot to say on life, happiness and romance and it handles it all very well. In a world where sequels, remakes, CGI, and "brands" rule supreme, I take comfort that the little movies can still have a deeper, more personal affect on me and I hope they do for you too.