Movie Review: The Spectacular Now

The Spectacular Now (2013)
95 minutes
Rated – R
Starring: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley


Grade: B+

There are rich characters and detailed conflicts in this independent coming-of-age, high school tale starring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. It’s always refreshing during the blockbuster season to watch movies with fully-established plots and characters that are more than just good looking or those wearing costumes. With the adapted screenplay written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (500 Days of Summer), the film is one of the best of 2013.

Sutter (Teller) is a high school senior that we’ve all been at least acquainted with. He’s charming and lovable, but has a darkness inside of him that he keeps at a distance through the means of alcohol. After a night of drinking, he’s woken up by a high school classmate, Aimee (Woodley) because he’s passed out on her lawn. She couldn’t be more different than Sutter with her quiet and nerdy personality, but there’s something in her that Sutter immediately is drawn into.

The relationship that is formed between Sutter and Aimee is comparable to a lot of high school romances, exciting at first but difficult a few months later. But Sutter is in the driver seat of it all, and that’s a dangerous road to be traveling on, especially for Aimee. Once Sutter realizes this himself, he does his best to distance himself from her, but without her he starts to shut down completely from school, his friends, and his family.

The Spectacular Now displays a troubled teenager’s journey of finding out what he wants and when he wants it. Sutter doesn’t understand the purpose of “growing up” because every adult he’s encountered in his life is miserable (including the teacher he directly questions). He floats around school and his job always with a buzz to get through the day because to his belief, there isn’t anything more important than what’s happening at that very moment.

Miles Teller gives an outstanding performance as a teenager with everything to lose because of a few bad eggs in his life. His co-star, Shailene Woodley, is bound to break out very soon because for anyone who’s watched her before, she’s a delight on the big screen. The two of them share a delicate chemistry that involves two very different teenagers searching for a way to grow up. Whether that actually happens at the end is for you to decide.


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