The Wackness

COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 36min

STARRING: Ben Kingsley, Josh Peck, Olivia Thirlby, Famke Janssen

Wheeler dealers: from left, Peck and Kingsley

1994 is a great year for hip-hop and for New York City with new-broom mayor Rudy Giuliani. But it’s not so great for Luke Shapiro (Peck) — he is friendless and depressed, his olds (Talia Balsam and David Wohl) are fighting and broke, it’s a stinking hot summer, and dealing dope is an empty way to make a buck. Luke’s offbeat psychiatrist Dr Squires (Kingsley) is a big dope smoker, doing it tough in an arid marriage (to a snippy Janssen). Like Luke, Dr Squires needs to have sex. The two team up in an off-kilter friendship only slightly rocked by Luke’s infatuation with the doctor’s stepdaughter (Juno cool girl Thirlby).


Kingsley as a boho-shrink bestie? Absolutely: there is a world of weary knowledge in those eyes. Thirlby and Peck work well together, too, as the temptress and the geek, his heart so fragile it’s begging to be smashed. But writer-director Jonathan Levin isn’t bogged in the glums. His moody little time capsule is piquant, surprising and astute, like an oyster enfolding an unexpected pearl.