- Written and directed by Jonathan Levine
I knew Ben Kingsley was a brilliant actor, but I didn’t know he could turn himself into Harvey Keitel. As a drugged-out New York psychiatrist, he looks astonishingly like Keitel, and hardly ever sounds British.
Although Kingsley gets top billing, Josh Peck gets the central role of Luke Shapiro, a pot dealer fresh out of high school. Kingsley’s Dr. Squires is merely Josh’s shrink, whom he’s paying in marijuana.
Life isn’t good for Luke. His shrink is more messed up than he is. His parents are going broke and planning to move to Jersey. It’s 1994, and Mayor Giuliani is cracking down on all sorts of crime that was tolerated before. And while Luke appears to be finally acquiring a girlfriend who might relieve him of his unwanted virginity, she’s Dr. Squires’ stepdaughter (Olivia Thirlby).
But The Wackness never quite jells. As a character, Josh lacks the depth and interest needed to fill a movie, while as an actor Peck lacks the charisma to carry one. Kingsley has the charisma, but his talent can’t raise Dr. Squires much above the one-joke character provided for him in the script. the central romance is totally unbelievable–she’s way out of Josh’s league.
The movie’s not a complete loss by any means. It’s often funny. The story avoids almost all of the cliché turns I was expecting. And any movie where Mary-Kate Olsen plays a stoner and makes out with Ben Kingsley has at least bizarreness on its side.
The Wackness screened at the 2008 San Francisco International Film Festival.