Published at: Jan. 19, 2008, 3:53 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. It’s early in the fest and I’ve already seen 2 movies I love unconditionally. IN BRUGES, the Focus Features opening night film and THE WACKNESS, an indie without distribution. However, after seeing the premiere, feeling the audience buzz and laugh and react and seeing just how damn good the movie is I’m sure the filmmakers are brokering a deal right this very minute.
I wouldn’t be surprised if THE WACKNESS becomes the “big sell” of this year’s festival. It really is that good.
It stars Josh Peck in a career-making performance as a teenage drug dealer. Original, right? It’s all in the execution. This isn’t like any drug dealer you’ve seen on film. In fact, I didn’t ever really look at him as a drug dealer type. He’s more of an awkward teen, a character more at home in a dark SUPERBAD movie than a “drug dealer” movie.
Peck was fantastic in MEAN CREEK a couple years back, but this is his moment to shine. He has the same kind of quiet vulnerability that Pacino had early in his career. Picture Pacino mixed with David Krumoltz and you get a good idea of Peck in this film.
It’s a movie about first time love and the oddest friendships that happen in life. This is at once a dark romantic comedy and a buddy picture. In this case Peck falls into an uneasy friendship with a pot-head psychiatrist (played beautifully by Ben Kingsley) who trades time on the couch for little green bags. Oh, and Kingsley is also the step-father to Steph, the gorgeous girl that has Peck’s heart drumming in his chest.
And not only Peck’s heart. The absolutely stunning Olivia Thirlby plays Steph. You’ll probably remember her from JUNO as Ellen Page’s best friend. She is unbelievably hot in this movie and as a much appreciated added bonus, there’s actually a three-dimensional character underneath the hot bod. She’s fantastic in this movie.
In this film you see everything from Method Man as the cool-ass Reggae drug kingpin to a dog named Jesus Christ to Thirlby in an amazing bikini to Mary-Kate Olsen humping Kingsley to a homeless dude saying the immortal line “I stabbed my wife in the pussy.”
The flick is also set in 1994 and it feels like an early ‘90s movie. In film stock, camera tricks (I love the “Fuck You” steadicam shot… you’ll know it when you see it), in framing and editing. Yeah, there are a lot of early ‘90s jokes, too, but for whatever reason they didn’t fall flat or feel forced like you’d expect a joke about dropping acid at a Phish concert to be.
It’s not an easy film to label. It’s a comedy, it’s a drama, it’s just great. Whatever the mixture is that writer/director Jonathan Levine whipped up it works.
Levine also did the interesting sub-million buck horror flick ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE. I liked that movie and after finding out it was made for under a million dollars I was blown away by that movie. But THE WACKNESS I have zero reservations about. It’s an incredible movie.
The crowd was amazingly receptive to the film, the most energized I’ve seen any of the Sundance audiences. Everyone I’ve talked to so far loves this movie. It’s the real deal.
Okay, I need to pass out for a few hours before my next day. I have a few good looking films on the schedule as well as my first scheduled interview of the fest… with noneother than Jack Black and Michel Gondry for BE KIND REWIND. Keep an eye out for that interview and my continuing coverage of the fest.