Saturday, January 21, 2012


It's the summer of '94. Forrest Gump ads are everywhere. The city of Manhattan is booming with drug dealers. Instead of hearing Public Enemy blastin' out of that boombox like we did 5 summers ago, we're hearin' Wu Tang Clan & Biz Markie. It's The Wackness. & it's a quintessential example of how to handle a period piece. One that this generation shouldn't feel too removed from to remember.

One of the most facinating things about the 'coming of age' story is its ability to capture a moment in a person's life in which a multitude of questions arise All cause by events that push our characters further along the road of cynicism. Or as Luke Shapiro learned, coping with the wackness of it all.

A negative aspect of these types of stories is the 'awkward shy guy' so commonly played up to the point of having me throw up. There's no Michael Cera getting the girl after his countless faux Woody Allen hang ups. There's just Josh Peck. An adolescent who is coming into a world of cynicism just as his psychiatrist wants out of it.

This is not hipster- indie- get- out- your- flanel. This is 90's hip hop with a twinge of classic rock thrown in the blender. Thank the creative juices of Jonathan Levine for that one.

Another noticeable pattern? The soundtracks. Maybe they're cruising in a jet only to find that blonde goddess they've been lookin' for. Or they're watching that goddess take off on a jet to Morocco. Or maybe they just want her to stand still in the hallway so they can remember her in that moment. Whatever the case may be, these little events in these characters lives are given transcendence with the aid of having a film embrace the music fom that period. We're not just random passersby. This is a world we want to inhabit. The Wackness is a time that feels lived rather than merely observed.

So, pop in that mixtape and start listening to All the Young Dudes. & try to avoid falling water balloons from the sky. As the book says: when it rains, it pours.

Grade: A+

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