Movie Playlist: Josh Peck

Welcome to another edition of Movie Playlist, where we talk to the writers, directors, and stars about their favorite films. I’ve always found the celebrity playlists on iTunes to be interesting. Most everyone in the film business moved to Hollywood after discovering their love of films. And I’ve always love talking to people about their favorite films. So talking to the people who make the movies about their favorite films just seemed like a natural idea.

This week’s edition is with Josh Peck, the star of The Wackness. I first saw The Wackness at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, where the movie went on to win the audience award. I’ve seen the film three times since January, and it still remains on my list of the top five films of 2008. Everyone is predicting that Peck  will become one of the breakout stars of the year.

Basquiat by Julian Schnabel

“That movie is awesome.”

Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas by Terry Gilliam

“It’s just… Terry Gilliam… I’ve just never have seen a world created like that. From the second they walk into what was Circus Circus, just how unbelievable it gets where he starts talking about the early sixties in San Francisco going to an acid rave. And Flea from the Chilli Peppers is licking acid off ofhis shirt sleeve and ‘with any luck his life is ruined forever’ I think that will just always live for me.”

25th Hour by Spike Lee

“This Spike Lee joint never fails.”

Bottle Rocket by Wes Anderson

“It’s like a real toss up between any of Wes Anderson’s first three movies. I feel like Bottle Rocket was so brilliant in its ingenious way where like Luke goes into this… ‘her name’s Inez’ and he goes ‘My name’s Dignan’. You know? I’ve geeked out and listed to like the director’s commentary on the Criterion Collection for Royal Tenenbaums and like heard about how Wes did three years of notes on the movie and how it was going to look and like his brother Eric Anderson did all the artwork for the movie and did like designed the suitcases for Darjeeling and whatnot. And Hackman… My favorite? I got to say… Bottle Rocket. I think it set the tone, but I love all three of those movies.”

The Wackness director Jonathan Levine adds: “But see Tenenbaums was the beginning of the end, or the beginning of the bad phase, I think.”

Fresh by Boaz Yakin

“Fresh is my favorite movie. It’s my favorite movie of all time.”


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The Wackness Teaser Trailer: “Dealing”

Sony Pictures Classics has released another new teaser trailer for The Wackness on Rotten Tomatoes. Watch the trailer below.

The Wackness hits limited release this Friday.

The Wackness Official Movie Trailer

The Wackness

Sony Pictures Classics has released a new trailer for one of my favorite films of the year – The Wackness. They’re calling it the “official trailer”, and I actually like it much more than the the previously released teasers. It plays equal attention the relationships between Peck, Thirlby, and Kingsley, the 1990′s nostalgia, and the incredible soundtrack. I could have done without the Mary-Kate Olsen button at the end, but I understand she might be a selling point.

Hunter points out that they probably should have played up some of the great critical reaction the film has gotten on the festival circuit. But at the same time I can understand that the target audience might not care about quotes from movie critics. I’m still waiting for the inevitable red band trailer. As I’ve said before, this film is a tough film to sell. Director Jonathan Levine told me that SPC was planning on doing a lot of word of mouth screenings to raise awareness. I think the best thing they could do is pack a theater with people and show them the film, as they will surely recommend it to ten of their friends.

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Watch the trailer in High Definition on Yahoo. The Wackness hits theaters on July 3rd 2008.

An E-Mail From Luke Shapiro

The Wackness

I just got an e-mail from Luke Shapiro. I only mention this because Luke Shapiro is a fictional character in a movie (one of my favorite movies of the year – The Wackness). And by that, I don’t mean that someone who liked the movie adopted the name of their favorite character for their online nickname (like OptimusPrime2007). The character from the movie actually e-mailed me.


From: Luke Shapiro
To: /Film
Date: Wed, May 28, 2008 at 4:37 PM
Subject: yo…

Yo, yo, yo, check out this video. I found it in the archives. My doorman and super are crazy dope. Stay tuned for more episodes of my flyness.


The YouTube link above leads to footage from a public access show created by Luke Shapiro in 1994. The footage was apparently recently discovered in the archives of a Manhattan Cable television station. And while I love the idea of marketing The Wackness using viral videos like this with the character of Luke Shapiro (played by Josh Peck), but aside from the opening, this video comes off like a bad Mad TV sketch (and is nothing like the tone of the film). But I like the idea, and I love the film, so I’m posting it.

The Wackness

It must be really hard to cut a good movie trailer, especially for a bad movie. But it always amazes me when great films sometimes have such horrible movie trailers. I’ve now seen Jonathan Levine ‘s The Wackness three times. And since January the film has held strong on the list of my favorite films of 2008. When Sony Pictures Classics purchased the film at Sundance, a lot of the people that loved this film were bummed out. Bloggers were outraged. You see, Sony Pictures Classics is where good movies go to die. The only way they can market a movie is if it wins an award (ie they let the award do the heavy lifting). And the guys at SPC promised that they knew how to handle this film, and two trailers later, I really really really don’t want to say I told you so, but…

The second teaser trailer is a mishmash of good moments from the film, which play well to someone who has seen the movie, but to the unknowing onlooker, it comes off as an urban “Step Up” or Finding Forester. Sure you have some good interaction between Ben Kingsley and Josh Peck, and the moment with Peck playing classic Nintendo, but I challenge anyone who hasn’t heard of this movie to explain to me what this movie is about. Because after seeing this trailer, you really have no idea.

You can watch the trailer below and see for yourself, but I highly recommend you stay away from any of the marketing from this film. I say this because if I had seen either of these teaser trailers, I probably wouldn’t be interested in the slightest. And it’s too bad, because this film is great. It won the audience award at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. People love this film. I love this film. Even critics love this film. But none of that is enough to sell this film to you the audience. I understand that. You want to be sold by the trailer. You probably won’t be sold by this one. Maybe the next one will be better. We can only hope.

The Wackness: Nine Photos

The Wackness

Cinematical has premiered two new images from Jonathan Levine’s The Wackness, one of our favorite films os 2008 so far. Which reminded me that we’ve never posted the production photos which were released at the Sundance Film Festival. You can check out those photos after the jump. The Wackness won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival, and was quickly snapped up by Sony Pictures Classics who plan to release the film in New York and Los Angeles on July 3rd (I’ve seen the tagline “The 4th of July is gonna be WACK”, which just goes to show you how lame SPC’s marketing department is).

The Wackness

Here is the official plot synopsis:

“Set in New York in the sweltering summer of 1994, THE WACKNESS tells the story of a troubled teenage drug dealer, who trades pot for therapy sessions with a drug-addled psychiatrist.. Things get more complicated when the kid falls for one of his classmates, who just happens to be the doctor’s daughter. Set against the backdrop of the greatest year in hip hop history, THE WACKNESS is a coming-of-age story about sex, drugs, music–and what it takes to be a man.”

The film stars a Harvey Keitel-looking Ben Kingsly, Josh Peck in a career making performance, the beautiful Olivia Thirlby, a hippy-fied Mary-Kate Olsen, Famke Janssen and Method Man.

Olivia Thirlby is such a huge part of this film, so why are they holding back on her in the marketing materials? If I were Sony Pictures Classics, and I had a movie that featured one of the stars of Juno, one of the biggest independent films of all time, I’d be playing that up just a little. I mean, releasing a photo that shows her face might be a start. I don’t understand why they are playing up the Ben Kingsly/Mary-Kate Olsen kiss when it has little to do with the overall story.

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Special Movie Trailer


Due for release this summer from Magnolia Pictures, Special is a superhero spoof starring New York veteran actor Michael Rapaport (True Romance, The War at Home) about a parking lot cop who is prescribed antidepressants and begins to believe and act like he has super powers.

The film, the debut of writer/director team Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore, has garnered solid buzz online thus far and Rapaport recently told MTV that a sequel has been discussed. The trailer below walks the edge of being a goofy comedy and offering dark commentary on mental illness, which seems to represent the film well judging by reviews. Have any of our UK readers seen Special, where it was released late last year and just hit DVD?

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Special starring Michael Rapaport, Josh Peck (Drillbit Taylor, The Wackness) and Paul Blackthorne (24, Lipstick Jungle) is tentatively scheduled for released stateside in June 2008.

Sundance Movie Review: The Wackness

The Wackness

Every year at Sundance I see a film during the first weekend that I absolutely fall in love with. Because it’s only the opening weekend, I try not to claim that a film is the best of this year’s festival. But usually my emotions win out and I make such a claim in a non-direct kind of way, which may explain this opening paragraph. Because this year The Wackness is that film.

Jonathan Levine’s second feature is set in the hot summer of 1994, when gangsta rap was beginning to penetrate into mainstream culture and a young depressed drug-dealer named Luke (Josh Peck in a career making performance) sets off on a journey to get laid before he goes off to college. Problem is that Luke is a combination loser/loner (what I like to call – “Loneser”). His only friend is his oddball psychiatrist Dr. Squires (a Harvey Keitel-looking Ben Kingsley) is suffering from a late-middle age crisis, and takes pot for trade for therapy sessions. Luke falls in love with Squires’ step-daughter Stephanie (Juno’s sexy supporting star Olivia Thirlby), while Dr. Squires makes out with a hippied-out Mary-Kate Olsen (yuck) in a phone booth.

The Wackness has the polish of a hip music video with the rawness of a gritty documentary. Imagine if Michael Bay shot a dramatic indie film. The Squid and the Whale for the NES generation, filled with Sex, Drugs and Rap music. The film perfectly captures the mood of the early to mid 90′s, referencing anything and everything from gameboys to Biggie Smalls, Giuliani’s overhaul of New York City to the fantastic 90′s compilation soundtrack. Levine takes chances, intercutting fantastical dream and musical sequences with a realistic dramatic story.

The Wackness is such a refreshing take on the coming-of-age story. Jonathan Levine has solidified himself as a solid next gen filmmaker, following in the talents of Paul Thomas Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, and Wes Anderson. See Kingsley like you’ve never seen him before, and Olivia Thirlby in her first breakout leading role. While this movie might not be as easily accessible as Little Miss Sunshine or Juno, the film will strike a strong connection with it’s targeted demographic (which I just so happen to fit into). The Wackness is the film to see at this year’s Sundance, and is already an early contender for this year’s top 10.

/Film Rating: 9 out of 10

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