“Spectacular Now” No Ordinary Teen Flick
Tired of mindless, shallow, puerile teenage high school movies? “The Spectacular Now” provides a thought-provoking alternative message about responsibility and the consequences of irresponsibility while still managing to be funny.
Directed by James Ponsoldt, “The Spectacular Now” is based on the novel by Tim Tharp, with screenplay by Scott Neustadter.
The two main characters are played by two relatively unknown actors who look more like real kids than movie stars.
Miles Teller is the lead character, Sutter Keely, a likeable high school senior and directionless slacker who is becoming increasingly fond of nipping from the flask he always carries with him.
We meet Sutter in mid-dumping by his pretty girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson).
Sutter tries not to let it get him down, so he starts hitting on other girls at a party. The next thing he knows he is shaken awake by Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley), a mousy smart-girl classmate, who has found him passed out on her front lawn.
“Where is my car?” asks the dazed Sutter, who asks Aimee to help him find it.
Both Sutter and Aimee have issues with parents. Neither has a father figure and both feel oppressed by their mother. The two each help the other. Sutter encourages Aimee to be more confident and independent. He also introduces her to booze.
Aimee tutors Sutter in math and encourages him to be more serious about school and a goal in life.
Romance blossoms, but there is a 500-pound gorilla obstacle that prevents the couple from realizing either one’s short-term dreams.
Director James Ponsoldt had an earlier film with a heavier and more obvious message called “Smashed.” Screenwriter Neustadter explored the fleeting vagaries of young romance in “500 Days of Summer.” The two elements are combined beautifully thanks to the wonderfully natural performances of Miles Teller, an actor who is scarred figuratively and literally, and Shailene Woodley in her first grown-up role since she played George Clooney’s daughter in “The Descendants.”
“The Spectacular Now” is no ordinary teen flick. That’s why young people should see it.