The Wackness
directed by Jonathan Levine
(Sony, 2008)

This movie is so New York.

Set mostly in the Upper East Side (the swankiest part of Manhattan), The Wackness is steeped in the language, mores and attitudes of that peculiar American tribe called New Yorkers. These people sweat stuff that most folks don't give a second thought to, but they blithely disregard things that others would worry about. They are amazingly blunt. They drink, use drugs and smoke cigarettes (teenagers are welcome in any bar). They have sex in phone booths.

Set in the summer of 1994, the movie's main characters are a confused high school grad, Luke Shapiro, who's making money selling pot out of a refreshment cart in Central Park, and his therapist, played in Ben Kingsley, who's basically an old hippie. This would be an amusing character study all by itself but for the third main character, played by Olivia Thirlby (Leah in Juno), who is both the doctor's stepdaughter and Shapiro's clandestine love interest.

The dialogue is killer. The soundtrack is dead on. The acting is sharp. It's both funny and sad.

To writer-director Jonathan Levine: Please, sir, may I have some more.

review by
Dave Sturm

8 August 2009

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