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Movie Review: The Wackness

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This is a difficult movie to market without a red-band trailer, due to the subject matter.

The Wackness is this summer's "it" indie movie. It's got all of the typical elements you'd see in an indie film; it's the coming-of-age story of an apathetic and depressed graduate (Josh Peck) who meets and falls in love with a carefree girl (Olivia Thirlby). This chance encounter allows him to experience a whole slew of emotions he has never felt, an existential crisis is had, kooky friends lighten up the mood, lives are changed, and lessons are learned. The top-notch cast and visionary director (Jonathan Levine) rehash and revitalize this stale genre, bringing with them all of the intangibles that make this one of the best movies of the year.

The movie takes place in New York in the summer of '94, a fond year for fans of music and Rudy Giuliani. The main character Luke Shapiro, manages to go through high school without any friends, sex (!), or aspirations. He spends most of his time at therapy sessions with Dr. Squires, and gives weed for each session. Their friendship grows out of their desire for sex (with other people), similar recreational activities (drug related), and their lack of meaningful relationships with other people. During the course of the movie you learn that Luke has a soft spot for Dr. Squires' stepdaughter, Stephanie, who is too cool for school (and Luke), so he is not completely hopeless. Luke and Squires begin to hang out, and they take each other out on their daily activities. On Luke's drug run, they run into the the stereotypical customers, most notably a hippie played by Mary-Kate Olson and a musician past her prime (Jane Adams). They both provide some sort of excitement and emotion for Squires, who has had none of that in his loveless marriage with his young, nonchalant wife (Famke Janssen). Squires returns the favor by taking Luke to one of the most popular bars to get laid. Unfortunately, the bar was popular when Squires was young and as all hotspots do, it has fallen into disrepair and irrelevance. Interspersed in here is the scene where Ben Kingsley makes out with Mary Kate, which has nothing to do with the story but happens to appear in almost every review or comment of this movie.