The Wackness

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Wackness Movie Poster Image
Bittersweet coming-of-age pic about a pot dealer.
  • R
  • 2008
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A teen tries to help his parents with the money he earns selling drugs. Compared to the male protagonist, a teen girl is depicted as unapologetically sexually experienced.


A character tries to commit suicide a couple of times; a wife scratches her husband's face; a drug dealer's bodyguards sport machine guns; a man says he's in jail for gruesomely hurting his wife.


Several love scenes, especially when Luke attempts to lose his virginity to Stephanie. In one scene, a married couple has sex while watching porn (a topless woman is shown moaning on a hotel television). Luke's naked rear is shown during one shower-based love scene. An underage girl makes out with an older man. Dr. Squires talks a lot about sex and advises Luke to "get laid."


Standard R-rated language -- "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "p---y," "dick," etc. -- is used throughout the film.


No overt products (unless you count marijuana), but there are many references to musicians like Notorious B.I.G., A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Kurt Cobain, Pearl Jam, and other early-'90s artists.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Near-constant marijuana use and dealing, including scenes and discussions of joints, blunts, bongs, etc. There's a great deal of underage drinking and cigarette smoking as well, plus a couple of scenes of people snorting or pill-popping prescription drugs like Ritalin and Valium.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although this movie stars Josh Peck from the wildly popular sitcom Drake and Josh, it's definitely not aimed at the Nickelodeon show's tween fan base. The film centers around an awkward high school senior who's a marijuana dealer. Like many coming-of-age-stories, it focuses on the mature themes of burgeoning sexuality (including several love scenes, jokes about virginity, and glimpses of a naked backside and breasts), drug use (many, many shots of teens and adults smoking pot), and first love. There's also a fair amount of drinking and cigarette smoking among 18- to 20-year-olds.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bythumbelina328 May 12, 2009

Do Not Watch!

I thought this movie would be funny and sort of tame just because it stars Josh Peck (from Drake & Josh). But it was disgusting! I'm 19 and I hat... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySaintjimmy October 2, 2009

Better for 15 and up

My parents rented this movie to watch and I'm only 12. It was definetly NOT for a child my age. I can handle language amd the drug scenes. But the sex was... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBestMovieEver August 31, 2009


ONE OF MY ALLTIME FAVS! Sex is a little iffy...drugs are near constant....language is fine.

What's the story?

It's New York City in the summer of 1994, and lonely pot dealer Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck, in a slightly startling departure from Drake and Josh) has just graduated from high school. He's friendless except for his regular customers, particularly Dr. Jeff Squires (Ben Kingsley), a psychiatrist who barters therapy for marijuana. Luke is focused on two things: falling for the doctor's stepdaughter Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby, the best friend from Juno), and selling enough dope to keep his family from being evicted.

Is it any good?

Peck, who does an amazing job shedding all remnants of his Nickelodeon alter ego, is perfectly cast as "the most popular of the unpopular" kids. He's the kind of teen who only finds out about a cool graduation party because the host pages him for drugs. Kingsley infuses his character with enough humor to be sympathetic, rather than just pathetic. The middle-aged shrink and teen dealer make a charming odd couple as they make each other mix tapes (Notorious B.I.G. and A Tribe Called Quest on one, David Bowie and Brahms on the other), sell weed out of an ice-cream cooler, and cruise for girls.

With compelling lead characters, a notable hip-hop soundtrack, and charming supporting performances by Mary-Kate Olsen, Jane Adams, and Method-Man, director Jonathan Levine's semi-autobiographical drama explores the universal themes of late adolescence without devolving into overly sentimental cliches. Those who were on the verge of adulthood in the early '90s will especially appreciate the cultural references in this sweet portrayal of that pivotal summer between high school and college.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about two of the film's messages -- that adolescence is a time to take risks and "make a mess out of life" and that the decisions you make in your youth shape your adult life. Why does Dr. Squires give Josh conflicting advice? What are the universal themes of this story? How are Stephanie's and Luke's characters nontraditional when it comes to teen relationships?

Movie details

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