The Wackness Jonathan Levine

The Wackness Jonathan Levine
For a decent helping of '90s nostalgia, the DVD of The Wackness is a time capsule of the privileged white hip-hopper scene of Manhattan, circa 1994. Enjoyment of the film will depend largely on whether you like the main character, Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck), a sleepy-eyed, droopy mouthed, awkward knave who falls in love with Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby), the daughter of the therapist (Ben Kingsley) he deals weed to. During his summer of love coming-of-age memoirs, director Levine drops a lot of '90s references — too many, in fact. Whether it's a close-up of a Game Boy or Shapiro blowing the dust from his Nintendo system, or the number of musical references to Boyz 2 Men and other bands of the era, it's a concerted effort to pull a cheap laugh from the audience. The '90s theme bleeds into the packaging of the DVD as well. In the audio commentary, Peck and Levine talk like a couple of neighbourhood pals annoyingly using old school slang like "mad cool," "dope" and "big ups," all of which contributes to a subtle attitude of superiority. The featurettes include a fun and clever travelogue with Jonathan Levine as he experiences the whirlwind press tour of the theatrical release and some decent on set behind-the-scenes footage. But the real gems are "The Luke Shapiro Show" segments, a fake cable access program created by the lead character that unfortunately never appeared in the movie. It's the only funny and self-deprecating aspect to the entire disc. The '90s memories seem to distract from the fundamental flaw of the film — the lack of a discernable goal for our hero. Shapiro's discussions with his therapist expound on many things — music, sex, drugs, relationships — but we never get a sense of what he desires. Is it love? Is it the exotic, unattainable Stephanie? Whatever it is, it's too vague a carrot to chase after. (Sony)