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Title :The Spectacular Now (2013)
Release : 13 September 2013 (USA)
Genre :Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stars :Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Kyle Chandler
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The Spectacular Now (2013) trailer
The Spectacular Now (2013) review
I’m not even going to waste time. “The Spectacular Now” is a great movie, one of the year’s best.
Based on Tim Tharp’s wonderful 2008 novel of the same name, it’s the story of Sutter Keely, the high school life of the party. Problem is, that position doesn’t get you much beyond good times and celebratory handshakes at social functions.
The reality of Sutter’s stature in life gets summed up early on after an encounter with the class president who’s having social problems of his own. After Sutter makes him feel better about his situation, the class president stops and looks back. “You know, you’re alright. You’re not the joke everybody thinks you are.” Reality creeps in closer and closer throughout the movie for Sutter. And so the warmly positive high schooler pours another drink.
Sutter, played by Miles Teller with sympathy and boisterous likability, really is a guy with issues. He just keeps shoving them out of view. They are carefully doled out by director James Ponsoldt as Teller creates a character that on the surface is like an amalgam of past celluloid cool guys – Lloyd Dobbler, Jeff Spicoli, Ferris Bueller. The difference is this amalgam has a serious drinking problem. As the movie plays out it seems every scene has Sutter drinking something or adding alcohol to his ThirstMasters big gulp container.
When the movie begins Sutter is alone in his room trying to complete a college application. Moments later he’s dumped by girlfriend Cassidy. He makes due by engaging in another long night of partying only to be awoke on the front lawn of someone’s home by someonel delivering newspapers – Aimee Finecky. Aimee is a cute girl, maybe the high school ‘geek girl.’ She’s really one of many girls in high school overlooked or just simply underrated.
Their introduction isn’t the typical “meet cute” scene. Instead it’s another “in the now” moment for Sutter that he fully embraces, going off with her to help toss newspapers and maybe find where he left his car in the middle of the night. Their scenes are delightful, their conversation feeling real and moments of shyness and intimacy that come off utterly natural.
Aimee becomes a door that gets opened, an introduction to a different world. She likes Japanese graphic novels, is smart, and knows what to do with her life. She loves unconditionally, isn’t selfish. When self deprecating about her interests he sweetly scolds her and then praises her, tells her “it’s awesome.”
This is Sutter, always cheering people up even though he struggles at doing the same for himself. He lives in a perpetual life of postponement, wishing he could never grow up, never enter adulthood and face what he surely sees doom and gloom coming from it.
Tharp’s novel is different in respect to what screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (“(500) Days of Summer”) have done, crafting a great screenplay that distills it into its own story. Ponsoldt is selective in how stages scenes, whether a long dialogue scene walking through a tree filled park or blowing out a scene by having it take place a bright window. He also has a great cast, from those playing high school characters to Sutter’s dad. In that role is Kyle Chandler (“Friday Night Lights,” “Super 8”) who does some of his best acting as an aged, bitter drunk.
If you enjoyed last year’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” then this won’t disappoint. Whereas that film felt contrived at times, “The Spectacular Now” is far more intimate, far more honest and its characters more relatable.
“The Spectacular Now” is currently playing at local cinemas but check schedules this Friday for new showtimes. It will likely only play another week and it’s definitely worth seeing. (Carmike 16 has full shows each day and Mayfaire 16 it shows at noon each day).