Release date: July 3
Director/Writer: Jonathan Levine
Cinematographer:: Petra Korner
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Josh Peck, Olivia Thirlby
Studio/Run Time: Sony Pictures Classics, 110 mins.
Kingsley’s acting carries gratuitous ’90s homage
It’s hard to determine whether director Jonathan Levine wanted to make a movie or an epic music video in this uncoordinated sophomore feature.
The entire production romanticizes the nostalgic grit of NYC during ’90s gentrification, with its story buried in a litany of graphite dream sequences and hip-hop references. The two leads seek an urban renewal of their own, as Ben Kingsley, a psychiatrist suspended in mid-life crisis, and Josh Peck, a teenage pot dealer, cry over their shared inability to pick up girls. The script handles its coming-of-age tale adequately, buoyed by inspired acting. Kingsley carries the film with masterful range while Peck balances him as the straight man. But the film struggles to tie its distracting art direction and dialogue to its characters. The narrative is touching, but it could’ve resonated more clearly if the filmmakers relied on solid storytelling instead of its outdated MTV-video muse.