By Omar Mazariego
A few weeks ago I went to see The Happening a.k.a The Horrible, and saw a preview for a coming of age flick called The Wackness (Which is what The Happening should’ve been dubbed). The next day I couldn’t get that preview out my head due to the hip-hop backdrop and songs used during the preview. So the excitement began.
A few weeks later I found myself with Khalid on a ridiculously long line to catch the screening (Thanks Navani ;-). Not to my surprise, me and Kha were the most G’d up heads there. I mean it was a hip-hop influenced flick, but it’s a predominantly white cast hip-hop flick, hence the predominantly white audience. It was so rosy there that Kha wanted to cut to thee very front of the line cause he knew wasn’t no one on line willing to fight us two. But me having tested those kind of waters before knew that while they won’t dare shoot the five or ten with us two, that kind of crowd would not hesitate to complain to security or management. We ain’t wanna get barred from the preview, so we chilled and got in about 20 minutes later. Now had it been a screening for Crank 2, best believe I would’ve took those chance.
Now The Wackness centers around an problematic pot dealer named Luke Shapiro (Josh from Drake & Josh). The young scrapper spends his time pitching on his blocks, trading his product to a shrink that’s going through a mid-life crisis in exchange for therapy, and also dreaming about bedding his shrink’s stepdaughter, Stephanie.
It’s his last summer before heading off to college and son’s only sexual experience stems from a park incident in which his jumpoff was drunk off of Crazy Horse (OG’s remember that beer. And y’all thought Cisco & St. Ides were crack juice). But the Po-9 came and did what they do best: C-block!
So aside from spending his whole summer hand-to-hand hustling (he’s trying to raise enough money to keep his family from getting evicted) and showing his shrink the ways of the streets (his shrink tagging up his whole government on a dept. store window was hilarious), he’s also now trying his best to woo Stephanie off her feet in hopes that she’ll end his virginal run a.k.a The AC Green Effect. Even though her ways and actions are like that of a savage (she hitting them slopes like Picabo Street) she is a cutie. I myself wouldn’t have put in a 16th of the effort he put into bagging her, but to each his own.
Now he’s pushing an ices cart around NY, bubbling the raw while Stephanie accompanies him and begins to grow feelings for him. Bendito!
Reasons while I loved this film lay in the cinematography and script. It truly was a trip down memory lane. The gritty look of the movie and the locations chosen really gave this joint the feel of a 1994 New York City. Complete with Giuliani bashing, 40 oz drinking teens in posh house parties (I think I saw Sam in the background making out with what appeared to be an overage female) and the rise of Notorious BIG in the music scene, The Wackness was very reminiscent of how life in NY was during that era.
The score to the movie itself was enough to make this film worth my time. All hip-hop music that was hot in NYC during ’94 made up this movie’s backdrop: Big, Raekwon, Nas, Tribe, Faith, Biz, Will Smith (He was the man at that time. Don’t front) – all classic. All day, everyday.
What I didn’t love about the movie was how rehearsed a lot of the slang sounded. From simple “nah”‘s to “shorty”‘s to “waddup”‘s sounded so fake that only Method Man’s horrible Jamaican accent made the “ebonics” used sound somewhat credible. Obviously these actors never set foot on a block where graffiti covers 90+ percent of its buildings and its residents are more familiar with WIC than they are with Starbucks. We all know Meth is hood, but his dread accent was so bad that if he approached you in the streets talking that sh*t, you’d automatically assume he was a D and would be waiting for him to pop out that badge and throw you against the wall.
Also a lot of key points where completely left out. Questions and possible answers that plagued me throughout the movie like: How did Luke’s father lose all his money causing their eviction? Maybe he bet it all on the Knicks to beat the Rockets in the Finals that year. Why was the Asian kid the most popular dude in school? Maybe he was Jin. Why was Stephanie’s dog named Jesus Christ? Maybe cause the dog was white. And why did the Knicks draft Danilo Gallinari? Maybe they were hoping NY fans would tear down the garden in a blind rage in which case Dolan and Walsh would collect an insurance check and use that money to sign Lebron James.
Anyway, The Wackness gets 3.5 Gangstas.
For all the funny dialogue, one liners and comedic moments, there was twice as much dragging (Why would I care about the Shrink’s stale marriage?), horrible slang speaking and accents and even worse: an Olsen twin (She made Amy Winehouse look like the bill of health). The music, the look and feel of the movie saved a lot of it. And while it did have its very well appreciated American Pie moments (premature loving) as well as its Kids moments (Free swinging teens), it was missing one crucial element: urban realism. Where were the black and brown characters? The REAL slang talking hoods that were dipped down in the Tommy Hil polo’s, Polo jeans, Nautica buckets, Timbs and JanSport bookbags – youknowwhati’msayin’! I was one of them, fool! We used to get it poppin’! You’re making a movie about hip-hop kids in NYC in 1994. At least keep it 100 with the culture. Oh that’s right, to people that ain’t grow up in the hood but are fascinated with the game, hip-hop is only music. At least that’s what I was once told. But to those who did grow up in the hood and lived it, hip-hop is a culture. So for our sake, just keep it real. But at the end of the film, I wasn’t mad. I ain’t spend a dime to see it and I was entertained. So to quote a good friend of mine: “Its the freeness. So its all good.”