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?

[flv: 460 346]

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