A series of failed relationships, more than anyone’s fair share of drugs, and lots of awkward young sex. The Wackness, staring former Disney channel funny guy Josh Peck and Ben Kingsley from Gandhi, is a story about a drug dealing teen and a drug addicted psychiatrist. And it only makes sense that a pot dealing teen pay his shrink by the gram. Peck’s character, Luke Shapiro, frequents the office of Kingsley’s character, Dr. Squires, to receive advice about life and unload his problems. If you asked Luke, however, he would tell you that he didn’t need it, but rather it’s just nice to have someone to talk to. Either way, Squires main advice is for Luke to simply get laid. When Luke does as his doctor orders all seems well until Squires realizes that Luke’s new prescription is his step daughter. The always honest doctor harshly admits to Luke that it’s a dead end relationship that will only end when his heart is broken. Luke doesn’t take Squires’ opinion well, but they still manages to form an unconventional friendship that is awfully exciting to watch grow.
Luke is someone we’ve seen many times, and has been played by many actors. Peck’s portrayal is an exceptionally sensitive one, especially for someone who deals pot by the pound. His first relationship is brought to a halt soon after he declares his love to his new girlfriend, Squires’ step daughter Stephanie. All seems lost and the only fun Luke can have is with his deranged Shrink. Although this is an exciting relationship to watch, with the trips to jail, nights at the bars, and drug running all about New York, it’s a dysfunctional one. Squires is supposed to be the one saving Josh, but after he realizes what his relationship with his wife has become he ties a note around his dog’s neck that reads “Please take care of me, my owner killed himself”. Not exactly a person who is in a position to help anyone. Then, without any surprise attached to it at all, you soon come to realize that Squires isn’t supposed to analyze and help Luke, they’re supposed to help each other.
The direction of the movie as a whole is an exceptionally unique one. It definitely carries an independent vibe and has a very tasteful soundtrack due to both main characters being music driven. The best way I can describe this film in short is Juno meats Goodwill hunting. Don’t get me wrong, however. You can love both of those films and not find much of anything you like about The Wackness. The main reason being the awkwardness that most of the cast has while delivering their 90’s slang. You can’t seem authentic just by adding “mad” in front of every adjective.
There are lots of idiosyncratic moments to cover your eyes about and the 90’s vibe is more times than not out of place. This story about Luke’s personal journeys with friendship, love, and hard to deal with situations is a loveable one, but could very well be as corny as the 90’s pick up line it will remind you of.