Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It was the dopest of times, it was the wackest of times...

The Wackness was WACK:

  • Initially, I found the look and feel very reminiscent of Kids. I saw Kids for the first time a couple months ago, and I thought it was good, in a way, but it was also a bit traumatizing. And since The Wackness is not intended to be traumatizing, I felt very emotionally conflicted for the first fifteen or twenty minutes.
  • After watching Kids, I definitely can't deal with even mildly graphic underage sex scenes. Anything more salacious than kissing makes me cringe. Teenagers look like children now that I'm an old lady of 23.
  • Stop hating on Jersey already! I appreciate that if you live in Manhattan, spending a month or so living in New Jersey is not ideal. It totally makes sense that you would prefer to stay in New York. But contrary to what this movie would have you believe, living in a New Jersey suburb is vastly preferable to being homeless!
  • The nostalgic summer of 1994 in New York setting didn't really relate to anything that was going on with the plot. It just felt like an extraneous, forced affectation, which didn't especially bother me or distract me, it just didn't enhance the movie as much as it could have. The Wackness fails to engage with its setting in exactly the way that Freaks and Geeks succeeds.
  • The same thing applies to the marijuana angle. I guess selling pot gave Luke some slightly edgy credibility and and a reason for his relationship with Dr. Squires. But the movie doesn't delve very deeply into the drug-dealing experience, which, thanks to Weeds, we all know has the potential to be fascinating.
  • Josh Peck's face is kind of irritating.
  • Aren't coming of age stories poignant and moving because the main character is more mature and self-aware at the end? I'm not sure that occurred here... Actually gaining that maturity and self-awareness should probably be a prerequisite before someone writes a nostalgic period piece about their own coming of age experience.
The Wackness was DOPE:
  • I don't care how unnecessary her role was, Mary-Kate Olsen is adorable and I thought she was great. I just wish her part had been bigger. I want to watch a movie where her character is the protagonist. Well, actually, what I really want is to WRITE a movie where that type of character is the protagonist.
  • Ben Kingsley was also very good.
  • Olivia Thirlby was also very good. She really inhabited her role without falling into easy clich├ęs. Her character is a common type in the high school/coming of age movie, but she felt more like someone who would actually be that person in real life, rather than the generic girl who would be cast in that sort of part in a movie. Actually, I think maybe that applies to most of the characters in this movie.
  • The Wackness has lots of funny and clever moments.
  • I have a fondness for movies that meander aimlessly, encountering events and points almost incidentally as they go. If they are funny and clever as they meander, that is.
You know how there are some movies that are technically great, and after you see them you think, "Oh wow, that movie was really well done, but I definitely won't watch it again"? The Wackness is the exact opposite of that. I found a million things to criticize as I watched it, but I'll probably buy the DVD.


Ed said...

Another thing that was whack:

- Method Man's ridiculous Jamaican accent. There's absolutely no need for it and it would have been so much funnier if he had been himself and let that comedic timing out like he did in How High. Well maybe not, but there's still no need for a ridiculous accent. He might as well have been trying to use a scottish brogue.

Two more things that were dope:

a) Mixtapes and their importance in the relationships between characters. This is probably the one nostalgic item from '94 that was really appropriate along with the rise of Biggie.

b) Ben Kingsley being a crazy old man and getting really pumped to push the old school ice cream wagon around in his crazy hats.

Kelsey said...

I have to say, I see what Caitlin means about the staleness of the film, but the nineties were pretty lame anyway, weren't they? I mean, nothing outrageous really went down other than the invasion of the Spice Girls and the uni-bomber. I thought that "The Wackness" embellished this staleness in it's story, characters (mainly Josh Peck), and cinematography. And I love the idea of wackness vs. dopeness.

Jonny said...

just saw the wackness last night via Digital Versatile Disc anddd thought it was pretty wack. Kingsley was good, but what accent was he going for? It bothered me throughout the movie because it seemed forced just like most things in the movie. to respond to another comment, the 90s were lame??? 90s were def. the best decade that i've lived through so far. Raekwon the Chef is sick. Also, Luke Shapiro is a total creeper, but i don't think that euphemism existed in 1994.