Sundance Buzz: ‘The Wackness’ Brings Down the House on Day 2

I know that it is far too early in the festival to be calling The Wackness the best of Sundance 2008, but enough certainly can’t be said at the response this one got earlier tonight at its world premiere. Writer/Director Jonathan Levine, cast members Josh Peck, Olivia Thirlby, Sir Ben Kingsley, Aaron Yoo, Method Man and Mary Kate Olsen were all on hand to enjoy the film with a packed house at the Racquet Club in Park City, as well as to hold a little Q&A after the screening.

Now, as I said in my review of the film, The Wackness brings to mind films like Juno or Little Miss Sunshine from years past, but sets itself apart by being edgier and at times more serious. Yet, despite some very serious elements (drugs, sex and rap music to name a few), the film is incredibly funny, leaving none of the 600+ attendees of the premiere unsatisfied.

Director Jonathan Levine Fields Questions at the Premiere

When the film was over and the credits were through, it received a roaring applause from the crowd. And as the cast were called up to the stage, it was young Josh Peck who garnered the most biggest reception — it was clear that his performance was something to be remembered.

When asked why the film was set in 1994, Levine responded, “It was a lot about the music and the time. I didn’t want to try to do a kind of high school coming of age movie, trying to figure out what was cool today. Because I don’t even know, like MySpace isn’t cool? I just can’t figure it out. So I figured I would just kinda stay on top of the shit I know, which is 1994. And I feel that it is really important for me to be authentic, so thats partly why 1994.”

Left to Right: Jonathan Levine, Sir Ben Kingsley, Josh Peck, Method Man

The rest of the cast was also on hand to answer questions, including the always gracious Sir Ben Kingsley. Kingsley, whose role was such a joy to behold, fielded questions about everything from what they were actually smoking in the movie (rather than weed) to what it was like to make out with one of the Olsen Twins. Overall, there was a good time to be had by all. The audience reaction was great, hearing the cast speak of the film made us believe that it was certainly a lot of fun to make and above all, it appears that we may have a new budding star director on our hands. Too many people missed Jonathan Levine’s All The Boys Love Mandy Lane in 2006, so let’s not make the same mistake in 2008. Also, keep an eye on this Josh Peck kid — he could be something special someday.

Keep it locked to our 2008 Sundance Film Festival Homepage all week as I will bring you up-to-date reviews, news and features from Park City, Utah.

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet. As of yet, no one has stopped him.

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