Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Josh Peck, Ben Kingsley, Famke Janssen, Olivia Thirlby, Mary Kate Olsen, Method Man, Jane Adams
Written by: Jonathan Levine
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive drug use, language and some sexuality
Running Time: 110
Date: 01/18/2008
IMDB

The Wackness (2008)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Summertime Snooze

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: The festival's big "Centerpiece" presentation, The Wackness, came out of Sundance with a lot of buzz. The problem with movies that come out of Sundance with a lot of buzz is that they're never very good; Sundance buzz is the equivalent of the Emperor's New Clothes. As for The Wackness... remember Reality Bites (1994)? That was a movie that took pains to set up all the details of a generation that grew up in the 1980s (music, clothes, movies, etc.) and then threw it all together with a banal, forgettable, cliché-ridden story. Written and directed by Jonathan Levine, The Wackness spends a great deal of time and energy re-creating the summer of 1994 in New York City; when anyone listens to Ready to Die by The Notorious B.I.G., they have to mention, "It's brand new! It just came out!" But after all this window dressing, it's a standard-issue coming-of-age story with the hero Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) flip-flopping between the girl of his dreams, Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby) and his closest friend, his shrink Dr. Squires (Ben Kingsley, in yet another show-offy performance). Luke is a drug dealer but somehow has turned the job into a daily drudgery, with no girls, guns or violence to speak of. Everyone tries to figure out the meaning of life and, by the end of August, everyone learns a valuable lesson. It's wack, all right.

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