Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Wackness

2008 Sundance Audience Award winner by Jonathan Levine (who hasn't done anything else you've heard of) that focuses on that crucial period in lead character Luke Shapiro's life, the summer after high school graduation and before college. What if I told you there was a movie out there were a pot dealing teenager is the most grounded, sane, innocent person in a film? Well, that's what's going on here. Luke is 18-ish and is spending his last summer trying his damndest to sell enough weed to make enough money to go to college and abandon his loser-ish life at home and at high school. Along the way he meets Dr. Squires (Ben Kingsley), a character that seems to stem from the dreams of the late Hunter S. Thompson, and his intoxicating stepdaughter (the girl from Juno that's not Juno, the other teenager, you know the one). Dr. Squires is a pothead and a psychologist. who agrees to give Luke complimentary seesion if Luke will "pay" w/ weed. Problem is, Luke falls head over bong for the good doctors stepdaughter. And so begins a story about two very different people (Squires and Shapiro) who are trying over this summer to figure out both who they are and who they want to be and maybe find a little love along the way. Ben Kingsley plays Dr. Squires to perfection and with an irony that is just simply thick (as in, he's a psych who's much more messed up than his patients). But now the real surprise in this movie is Josh Peck who played Luke. Peck is best known as the chubby comedy kid from the Disney Channel. He's been in all their pre-teen comedy crap for years, be it The Amanda Show or Josh&Drake. Here he gives a performance that feels so confident and natural that he actually overshadows the great Ben Kingsley. I couldn't believe it. I absolutely loved this performance. Peck's Shapiro is cool, smart and very very brave and yet at the same time vulnerable, naiive and innocent. I really liked this movie and found myself thinking about it for well beyond the time it was on screen. It does drag a bit at times and could've used a more cohesive vision, but overall I really did love it and thought the performances, especially of the leads, were just fantastic. And the whole movie is packed w/ style, I mean, the visuals are amazing for the budget. I hate that this flick is playing almost nowhere, but if it's in your town and your looking for something a little different, check it out. It's a truly decent flick that's totally flying under the radar.

Worth Watching

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