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Wackness, The


Stars: Ben Kingsley, Josh Peck, Famke Janssen, Olivia Thirlby, Method Man, Talia Balsam, Bob Dishy, Joanna Merlin, Mary-Kate Olsen, Aaron Yoo

Director: Jonathan Levine

An ultra-hip but ultimately rather depressing look at New York life in 1994 - 'the greatest year in hip-hop history' - where teenage drug dealer Luke (Peck) strikes up a quirky relationship with his shrink - and client - Dr Squires (Kingsley) who pops more pills than his patients.

Luke has problems at home, where his father is about to get them evicted, and tries to earn enough drug money to stop it happening. Meanwhile, Squires and his wife (Janssen) can scarcely stand the sight of each other and the good doctor hits the bars with Luke, both in the vain hope of an easy lay.

The relationship of this odd couple is temporarily fractured, though, when the virginal Luke meets Squires' free-living stepdaughter (Thirlby) and falls headlong in love,

Sir Ben, channelling Dustin Hoffman via Harvey Keitel, is worth the price of admission alone here, totally dominating the picture, though in fairness he has little competition. Janssen is drab in a thankless role, while Peck and Thirlby are little fun to be with and ill-served by dark, eye-hurting photography that drains primary colours out of most of the scenes. Actors in supporting roles hardly register in an oddball film that's just not quite as smart as it thinks it is.

David Quinlan

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Revolver. Technicolor.
98 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 3, Swearing 2.

Review date: 24 Aug 2008