Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

'The Wackness' Is Wack!

Living in New York City, it's nearly impossible to avoid ads for the 2008 Sundance Audience Award winner, The Wackness, an upcoming 2008 comedy by Jonathan Levine, reaching theatres in the U.S. today.

The plot: It’s the summer of 1994, and the streets of New York are pulsing with hip hop and wafting with the aroma of marijuana. The newly-inaugurated mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, is only beginning to implement his initiatives against crimes such as noisy portable radio, graffiti and public drunkenness. The film centers upon a troubled high school student named Luke Shapiro - a teenage marijuana dealer who forms a friendship with Dr. Jeffrey Squires (played by Sir Ben Kingsley), a psychiatrist and kindred lost soul. When the doctor proposes Luke trade him marijuana for therapy sessions, the two begin to explore both New York City and their own depression.

It co-stars Method Man as "an armed body guard totting Jamaican pot distributor from Queens" (bad accent and all) and features a soundtrack with music that helped define a generation - including cuts from the likes of Nas (his seminal Illmatic CD), to "Can I Kick It" by Tribe Called Quest, to "Flava In Ya Ear" (Craig Mack), Just A Friend (Biz Markie), Bump N' Grind (R Kelly), and even Summertime (Dj Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince).

Everytime I see the film's trailer or a poster for it, I feel myself getting annoyed. I usually just shake my head, sigh, and either quickly change whatever channel I was watching, or walk briskly past the city wall on which the poster hangs.

I can go into the myriad of reasons why I react the way I do (the title alone when closely considered is a good place to start), but Brandon Harris over at CinemaEchoChamber sums it all up quite nicely. He was brave enough to see the film, and wrote a review about it.

Here's a snippet:

- "The carefully molded world of the movie is one of its major selling points for a large portion of the target youth audience that geriatric seeming Sony Pictures Classics is hoping it can lure with this sweet and sugary, yet oddly colorless summer of 94’ hip-hop fantasia. From the desaturated hues of its early and middle passages to the alabaster pallor of almost its entire cast, this movie is lily white, regardless of how many Nas, Biggie and Wu-Tang Clan songs can get stuffed into the final mix. Its no surprise the only black participant in this black culturally infused movie is Meth (Method Man), making a mockery of himself, the gentle irony of his actual voice on a Wu-Tang song playing in the background of his silly scenes here just another reminder of the spirit and verisimilitude that the film, despite best efforts, isn’t able to extract from its antecedents."

Read Brandon's entire review HERE.

Here's the annoying trailer:


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