Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Wackness

There are a lot of great movie titles out there – names you really have to think about, or names that sum up the entire story in one word without giving anything away. Good writers should put just as much effort into their titles as they do their scripts. The Wackness is one of those perfect names where at first you think, “Well that’s different, but it’s kind of vague, I wonder what this movie is all about?” And then you watch it and realize, that title is freaking perfect.

The Wackness is the often funny, sometimes sad story of Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) and his best friend/psychiatrist, Dr. Squires (Ben Kingsley). Luke is a recent high school graduate dealing with some sadness in his life and dealing marijuana on the streets of New York City. He visits Dr. Squires on a regular basis, not only for therapy sessions, but to sell him weed. Over time, the two of them become very close. They even make each other mix tapes.

Luke characterizes himself as a loser, and it sounds like he’s been one his whole life. He’s never had a girlfriend and the only friends he has are his clients. His home life is nothing spectacular either – his parents act like children and Luke needs to assert himself as man of the house. Dr. Squires is also a loser. His wife no longer loves him and he’s heavily medicated. His life is dull and he craves the excitement of adolescence. The Wackness is the classic story of two friends who both want what the other should have at their age. The theme isn’t exactly new – old guy teaches kid and kid teaches old guy – but the characters and the story are refreshing. This is not Tuesdays with Morrie.

Luke is played by Josh Peck, an actor previously associated with Nickelodeon shows like Drake and Josh. I’ve never seen the show, but I have a feeling that Luke Shapiro is a far cry from any character Josh has played before. At first he appears to be a little shady and perhaps womanizing, but we come to know him as a sensitive young kid in an adult world. He’s just looking for love. Josh plays this character so perfectly, the audience understands exactly what he’s going through. Another actor may have portrayed Luke in a Jay and Silent Bob kind of way.

Ben Kingsley’s performance is even more incredible. I’ve really only seen him in serious roles so Dr. Squires was definitely a surprise. He’s not an average psychiatrist to say the least. He’s off-the-wall and hilarious and he wants to experience everything that Luke does. His simple view of the world is naïve and charming. I love the way he talks to Luke and his one-liners are fantastic. Like a kid, he just doesn’t care if his actions get him into trouble and that makes for some pretty funny scenes.

There are so many pieces of this movie that just make you feel good. I loved some of the sequences and animations that take place in Luke’s head. My favorite scene is when Luke is just so overwhelmed with love he channels his inner Michael Jackson. Even when things look bleak for these two guys, you come away with a feeling that even though things might suck right now, those things only make you better.

The Wackness is just a fun movie that made me feel good. Some may come away with a totally different perspective because the subject matter is pretty adult and there are several tense scenes. But I think the point here is that we encounter sadness in our lives everyday, it’s part of life. We have to take the wackness with the dopeness.

4 mix tapes

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