Saturday, July 5, 2008

"I See The Dopeness; You Only See the Wackness"....A Review, in nonsense and lists, mostly.

Jonathan Levine's The Wackness is basically the Jewish version of Good Will Hunting. Luke Shapiro, a drug dealing, mildly unpopular Jewish kid pretending to be black befriends (and sells pot to) Dr. Squires, a crazy Jewish psychiatrist. A beautiful, life-altering homosocial friendship ensues. Did I say it was the Jewish Good Will Hunting? What I meant was it was the Man-Boy love version of Superbad. Really, if you were an agent pitching it to a studio you could go with either: A.) This is Good Will Hunting, only Jewish or B.) This is Superbad, only with a NAMBLA spin.

Which is not to say that the movie was bad. It was great. I mean, Good Will Hunting should have been more Jewish in the first place. Psychiatrists that straddle the line between crazy and wise and pill-popping are hard to find (believe me, I've tried), but I can guarantee when you do find such a rare gem of bubbling existential neurosis in a doctor they sure as hell ain't Irish Catholic.

Jewish Psychiatrist:

NOT A JEW Psychiatrist:

Josh Peck, who plays Luke, was absolutely perfect for the role. His kind of dopey pseudo-gangsta, but nerdishly sweet smile managed to convey both the character's pretense and genuine good nature. Ben Kingsley, however, spoke with an affected "New York" accent that encompassed more dialects than the U.N. has country members. This made him seem even crazier. I couldn't tell if it was deliberate. Since it's Ben Kingsley I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say yes.

I was predisposed to like the film's writer/director Jonathan Levine because he went to my alma mater, and he makes fun of it in a recent NYT's article:

At Brown, where Mr. Levine majored in English and art semiotics (“That’s sort of half reading Foucault and Baudrillard and half making stuff,” he explained), he was also a bit of an anomaly, at least among the college’s would-be filmmakers, many of whom were making tone poems.

Luke Shapiro's main problem of course is not getting laid. In high school, that means everything. Actually now in my twentysomethings, it still means everything. He develops a huge crush on Dr. Squire's stepdaughter, Stephanie (Olivia Thirby).

"Yo, um, it would be mad fly, if you could, like, touch my dick."

Contrary to the Katherine Heigl-type neurotic, beautiful, and responsible female lead, Thirby plays the indie-standard ideal female, what I like to call the "Quirky Aggressive". She's pretty without makeup, wears Converse, and says quirky and aggressive things.


#1.) You do drugs or you like talking about how you do drugs.

#2.) You use unique, half-witty, half-annoying sayings like "Dudesies!", "For YAYs" and make jokes about "Rim Jobs" because you are so cool with your sexuality.

#3.) On dates, rather than awkwardness, you manifest your wants/needs/insecurities through aggressive lines like "So when are you going to kiss/fuck/lick my C???"

(Advice: Quirky Aggressives are only beloved in indie films. Please do not try to be one in real life. Do not make rim job and poop jokes on dates. For the first few months your dude will be all like, "OMG, you're so cool and funny! You're not like other girls!" because you said something about giving "Nietzche a BlowJ" or some Quirky Aggressive-esque bullshit, but then after about six months the charm wears off and you find yourself being hushed in public places or cringed at just for telling your old, beloved rim job joke! You are being silenced, Quirky Aggressive. But Quirky Aggressives won't be silenced so they keep going, because, like, they're quirky and aggressive, and shutting up for a dude is so antithetical to their personality. Which brings us to.....)


Eleanor, played by Jane Adams, was my favorite character in the movie. She was only in it for ten minutes. Eleanor is a single, thirtysomething ex-band member/stoner who buys pot regularly from Luke, and tells him all her problems when she's stoned. She delivers the best line of the movie: "Why are men so intimidated by me? Is it because I play an instrument?"

Movies in which Jane Adams has played a lonely-heart:

The Wackness
Little Children
Wonder Boys (okay not so much. FCed:MC)
The Anniversary Party

I hope you realize I'm kidding about this Q-A stuff. Everything will be fine, Q-As. Especially if you're a lesbian. I, however, am a heterosexual feminist.

The one thing I didn't like about The Wackness was its constant self-conscious references to New York in the 1990s. We get it. This is New York. It is the 1990s. There were so many Guiliani references I could basically make a case that Guiliani is the cause of Luke's limp dick in the scene where he loses his virginity. But that is a whole 'nother blog post. Basically it does to Guiliani what Definitely Maybe did to the Clintons. Perhaps Levine wrote the movie when Rudy was still a viable presidential candidate.

Even more than it was a movie about male friendship and the hardships of love and relationships, it was a movie about music. The Power of Tunes. How Music Can Change Your Life. Music As The One Constant. How Music Identifies Who You Are.

Movies About Boys Loving Music:
The Wackness
Almost Famous
High Fidelity
Mr. Holland's Opus
8 Mile

And those are only the titles I can think of off the top of my head. Hollywood is built on male love for music.

Movies About Girls Loving Music:

Tangentially related: Can I just say that CONSTRUCTIVE SUMMER, by THE HOLD STEADY, is totally changing my life right now? This blog is officially anointing it SONG OF THE SUMMER. Rim Jobs and Italian Ices for everyone who listens to it!


Meredith said...

Jane Adams was NOT a lonelyheart in Wonder Boys! She had the president of the James Brown Hair Club for Men as her babydaddy!

Perfect Ratio said...

Oh, you're so right! But didn't she still seem kind of lonely in that restaurant scene when she was fighting with the boyf? Maybe I just want her to be. Hmmmm.

Information said...

You're right about Good Will Hunting not being Jew enough though I did find solace in Mimi Driver who, if she's not Jewish, sure looks like it.

Molly said...

1. I luvvvvvv Jane Adams
2. they had to teach Ben Kingsley how to do a bong hit
3. want to do a TR post about Q-As? I think it has legs
4. Levine is every private school NY wigger from Brown
5. Good Will Cunting
6. if this had been made in the 90s, parker posey would have played the QA, as she is the alpha QA

Molly said...

also Crossroads is AWESOME

Perfect Ratio said...

The sad thing is I totally would have boned an Ivy League wigger like Levine (or at least tried to). I think I like when boys call me "mad", but not in the angry sense. It's super refreshing.

You're so right about Parker Posey. Though I rented Broken English this weekend (barf) and she was more Quirky-Depressive than Quirky-Aggressive. I think after being broken and tamed in one's 20s, all Q-As morph into Q-Ds during their lonely thirty years.

Rafa T.m said...

Where do the sentence about nietzsche come from? Are u talking about the philosopher?

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