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8/10
A rare worthy entry into teen Dramedy genre
ferguson-615 August 2013
Greetings again from the darkness. Coming-of-age teen dramas with a comedic flair that speak to that tumultuous period of life are rarely worthy of discussion. The exceptions hover film greatness: Rebel Without a Cause, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dazed and Confused, The Breakfast Club, and Say Anything ... Along comes young director James Ponsoldt and his adaptation of Tim Tharp's novel. While not perfect and falling just short of the level of those classics, it is nonetheless a welcome addition and quite interesting.

It's tempting to call Sutter (played by up-and-comer Miles Teller) a happy-go-lucky kid. He's the frat boy type - quick with a quip, smooth with the parents and girls, and the envy of the masses. That term would be misapplied to a kid who not only is never without his flask, but also gives them as gifts. He uses his wit and booze to dull the pain of his aimless existence. We see his lackadaisical efforts at completing a college admission form, and it's used as a plot device to track Sutter's progression through the film.

Brie Larson is terrific as Sutter's perfect match ... right up until she decides that his philosophy of living in the now (even spectacularly) doesn't leave hope for much of a future. After an extreme night of drinking and partying, Sutter gets awakened while laying in a neighbor's front yard. Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) is Aimee Finicky who recognizes the popular Sutter, even though he has no idea who she is. Slowly, the two connect on a level previously unknown to either ... some good, some not so wise (just like real teenagers).

This couple of opposites learn much from each other, and soon enough, Sutter is confronting his long last father (Kyle Chandler). No real surprises what he discovers, but it's a life lesson that must be learned. Sutter seeks more from his remaining family - a big sister (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who escaped the grind, and a workaholic mom (Jennifer Jason Leigh) doing her best to provide hope for Sutter.

The script is co-written by Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber who also wrote (500) Days of Summer. John Hughes and Cameron Crowe proved they could present teen dilemmas in an entertaining way, and this one follows the same structure. This is a dialogue-heavy story as Sutter and Aimee struggle alone and together to figure out life's next steps.

I will say that for the first few minutes of the movie, I found Sutter to be the kind of guy that I would typically have no interest in. Tip of the cap to the filmmakers and Miles Teller for turning that around. It should also be noted that Shailene Woodley is so naturally affecting, that her character never comes across as anything but sincere. Given the state of today's mainstream coming of age stories, this one definitely deserves a look and could gather some attention come awards time.
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8/10
Finally a good teen movie
siderite6 January 2014
I wanted to see this film to soothe my wife. She usually loves adolescent romance stuff, so I thought I would suffer through it. Instead, I ended up liking it more than she did.

The thing about romance films and adolescence films in particular is that the kids are presented like complete idiots, like aliens from the planet Dumb. In order to keep up with this superficial image all other characters must act the same. The result is a complete fake.

The Spectacular Now is nothing like that. From the start it portrays teens as complex, intelligent, troubled about their past and their future, maybe laid back alcoholics or chronically shy or overachievers with low self esteem. And they all interact like human beings. It's a joy to see a film like this.

I also loved that they didn't use the cheap tricks of romance movies in general. No evil adversary to define the character as good, no ultimate goal to direct the entire film from point A to point B, no artificial accidents or catastrophes to move people out of their stupor, no highschool cliques, no Facebook or Twitter dramas. Instead, normal people doing normal stuff, trying to get over themselves and have a happy life.

The film was not without its flaws. It was a little too slow, for once. It only lasted an hour and a half but it felt like more. Also there is a somewhat seamless jump of a few years that takes the viewer by surprise (I still don't know when it happened). Also, I am a bit grumpy today, the film probably deserved a 9. Go watch it!
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10/10
Smells Like Teen Spirit
bengantz31 July 2013
I was lucky enough to see The Spectacular Now at an advance screening, and walking out, I had the unmistakable feeling that I can only describe as a "good movie buzz." You feel a little light on your feet. You're thinking not only about what you've just seen, but how it relates to you. It's a heartfelt story that distills all of the beauty, tenderness, and apocalyptic bleakness of youth into a 95 minute love story that portrays teenagers in the most honest way since the films of John Hughes. The Spectacular Now won Sundance's special jury prize for acting and within minutes, the reason for this becomes apparent. Beautiful, naturalistic performances all around. Miles Teller portrays Sutter Keely with charisma and an effervescent charm while Shailene Woodley imbues Aimee Finicky with a tender shyness that makes her character incredibly endearing. When you watch the two of them on screen together, their chemistry is not just apparent, it's intoxicating. And it's not just a movie held together by its performances. Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber have written an incredible screenplay with flawed yet likable characters you can't help but root for, and James Ponsoldt has delicately directed the script to make his best movie to date. The Spectacular Now is much more than another indie darling. It has breathed life into the "teen movie" genre by treating its characters with maturity and honesty. This is the coming of age movie of our time.
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10/10
Spectacular spectacular
btnthx15 August 2013
Growing up I always had a pretty utopian view on what being a teenager in high school would be like. Once I got there, it was nothing like what I had thought, and plus we had no kids that looked like James Spader. Just because high school was not like a John Hughes film didn't make it a bad thing, I just think I would have had more fun at those schools than mine. Now a day in the perfect world is not what people want, they want something real, and in "The Spectacular Now" it feels like what being a teenager feels like today.

Now being a middle-aged man this is only a guess, but it sure feels right on. Sutter (Miles Teller) is that guy everyone likes, you know the life if any party. Sutter is enjoying every minute of high school, great times, and a great girlfriend named Cassidy (Brie Larson) to top it off. Sutter also likes to drink, and not the typical teenage drinking, he goes as far as carrying a flask and even putting alcohol in anything he drinks. After Cassidy breaks up with him, Sutter drinks a little too much and ends up passed out in the front of a house, not his own. He is found by Aimee (Shailene Woodley), who knows Sutter from school. Sutter starts to gather interest in Aimee, but all the while hoping to land back with the women he thinks he wants in Cassidy. Aimee has never had a boyfriend and quickly starts to fall for Sutter hard. With school ending soon, Sutter is all about the now, and has no idea what his future will hold, he never wants to grow up, because where is the fun in that?

A lot of people think that their high school years were their highest point in their life. I mean you have no worries, no responsibilities, you just live life. Everything is easier, including love because how innocent everything is. Sutter and Aimee are at that point where things start to move, college and life are in front of them making them have to make choices they never had to before. Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber (500 Days of Summer) from the book by Tim Tharp, the story is a real coming of age story. I know that is a bad description, but where so many coming of age stories fail, this one soars. It is all perfectly directed by James Ponsoldt (Smashed), who set the movie in his home town of Athens, Georgia, and even shot the film in locations he grew up in. It all comes together by the flawless performances by Woodley and Teller who are perfect for each other on screen. I sometimes think what it would be like to grow up in this day and age, well I think I just got to see what life is like today and like this movie it looks spectacular.

Brian Taylor

http://the2cinemen.blogspot.com/
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10/10
Brilliant and painfully honest
rivertam2629 August 2013
You know when you see those movies and you say they just don't make these anymore. Well this is that type of movie. Joining the ranks of the best teen movies ever made and possibly the most honest of the bunch The Spectacular now is absolutely brilliant. The film centers on Sutter played charmingly by Miles Teller a charming teenage alcoholic who after a breakup with his girlfriend Cassidy befriends a painfully Naive young girl names Aimee played effortlessly by the mega talented Shailene Woodley. Both of the characters are so complex and so is their story. Like so many other films concerning this age group it is coming of age but unlike most others it doesn't fall into any clichés and offers no easy answers. Equally moving, touching, hilarious and even a little shocking this film is painfully genuine. A true testament to the choices and experiences that shape you as a person. Miles Teller is brilliant as Sutter he's charming and damaged you go back and forth between loving and hating him and easily relatable sometimes in the worst ways and very reminiscent of a young John Cusack in his hey day. Shailene Woodley is so confident in her portrayal of Aimee so naive, vulnerable and insecure desperately in search of acceptance and love because of her home situation. But that's not where the great performances end. Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Sutter's sister Holly steals her scenes, Brie Larson as his girlfriend Cassidy, Jennifer Jason Leigh as his hard working mother Sara, Kyle Chandler as his father and just the whole cast feels so real. The Spectacular Now isn't just the bets film of the year it's an incredible experience. It's the type f film you leave haven't learned something. A film that inspires you to make changes. 5/5
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9/10
The Spectacular Young at Heart
Quinoa198417 August 2013
The Spectacular Now is a coming-of-age drama mixed with young love story about Sutter (Miles Kelly, an interesting, uncynical young find who can communicate a lot of different sides to this character without coming off too fresh or overwrought) who starts off obnoxious (but in the way that is believable to the way that teenage boys can get obnoxious) and in the wake of a failed relationship meets a good, sweet girl, Amy, and a natural relationship unfolds in their senior year of High School. While this is going on, he has a problem with alcohol - which extends to Amy - and about a past history that Sutter has to confront with a dead- beat father.

The film that is very well written (based on a book but having that same quality in the dialog and story turns that speaks to their intelligence at navigating conventions) without being show-offy, and performances that feel raw and sensitive and try to avoid a lot of clichés (or that Hollywood way of showing teenagers "like we think they are" as opposed to how they are closer to life), and a strong dramatic story about young love and overcoming the flaws in yourself.

It's not perfect, and has a few little things with the alcohol element to the film that irked me (which is much bigger than what you may realize seeing the trailer, much more actually, it's really a companion piece with this director's previous movie Smashed which is also about boozing), but its real and honest and that's so rare to find in a teenage story like this. Woodley has a long career ahead of her, and has that great distinction of being naturally pretty, dramatically intuitive, and yet is not SO pretty that you can't accept her as a cute teenager girl (or... dare I say Mary Jane in the next Spiderman movie?) Go see it - it's not top 10 of the year great, but it's great in the ways that matter for a story like this.
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6/10
Spectacular Moments, But Also Flawed
dirtesq22 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The Spectacular Now is a film with great potential that is ultimately unfulfilled. The acting is excellent, especially Shailene Woodley's performance as Aimee, and there are moments that are truly exceptional. The scene where Sutter (played by Miles Teller) and Aimee are throwing newspapers together shortly after meeting feels genuine and provides a believable premise for how these two very different people begin to develop a bond. And the lovemaking scene between them is a wonderfully genuine and poignant depiction of the awkward but tender side of teenage sexuality, free from the typical gratuitous nudity or crude jokes.

The film has major shortcomings, though. Too much is told rather than being shown, and Sutter's character never really seems to grow. We are told at the end of the film as he is rewriting his college essay that he now suddenly gets it all and intends to change, but he also quits his job because he can't promise not to come to work "loaded" and crashes his car into his own mailbox while driving drunk shortly before he has this supposed breakthrough. The scene where his mother is telling him how different he is from his father and how he has such a big heart would ring a lot truer if we had seen some of this heart during the preceding 90 minutes of the film. Instead, we are left with his mother telling us at the end of the film about the kind and generous things he did in the third grade instead of being able to witness any sort of similar kindness and generosity in Sutter's behavior. It would take a miraculous leap for the viewer to believe Sutter has really changed to any material extent when he shows up at Aimee's college at the end of the film.

Shailene Woodley's Aimee is genuine and lovable, but the viewer can't help but feel she is being sucked into Sutter's destructive and self-centered world and worry for her for the consequences. Aimee's mother supposedly wants to hold her back from leaving home and going to college, even though we never meet this mother and never see the dynamic of this relationship. Perhaps the one arguably positive thing Sutter does for Aimee in the entire story is to encourage her to stand up to her mother about going to college and pursuing her own life, but again, we never see any of this transpire and are only told what happens.

There were several lost opportunities in the film to show the audience growth in Sutter's character that would have been much more effective than his telling us in his essay. If the filmmakers really want the audience to believe Sutter has learned something and grown in a meaningful way, some indication that he had acknowledged and was prepared to address his alcoholism is critical. And if we are to believe that he actually loves Aimee, and not just that she is his next best girlfriend option for now after being dumped by Cassidy, we needed to see him demonstrate that love by something more than just giving her a hip flask or showing up at her college at the end.

Overall, the film is not an unpleasant experience, and the performances are quite good, but one can't help but feel there was a lost opportunity here for this film to be much more than it is.
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9/10
A refreshing take
thereisnothingleft17 December 2013
I found The Spectacular now to be a very refreshing movie to watch. We've all seen the coming of age high school romance blahblahblah thing before, but the film takes you where you didn't expect it to go, and that is one of the qualities that makes it a great experience.

Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are fantastic, particularly Woodley. I don't know how you can't be a fan of Teller, he is his usual self in this one and adds even more depth to himself. Woodley's as real as it gets in her performance. I didn't notice it until my second viewing in terms of how natural she was, but she was terrific.

Those two are already great to cast as leads, but it's always fun when the casting for anything is just all around fantastic. Tamper your expectations a bit because it's all about the leads in this one, but Coach Taylor, Bubbles, and Saul Goodman are great in the limited time they are on screen. I mean, Kyle Chandler, Andre Royo, and Bob Odenkirk.

The emotional impact of this film really hit me towards the end, and certain factors are very predominant in the movie that you definitely do not expect. Without spoiling anything, I'll just say take away a lot of the laughs you were expecting, and brace yourself for the feels and a very serious tone. This may damper some who came for this because it's from the dudes who did 500 Days of Summer, but It's still very good and the movie is actually funny in the spots it wants to be.

Overall, I think this is absolutely a film you want to see. Where the story goes widens the appeal of this movie by far in my opinion, so if you were just not going to see it or judged it by the trailers, don't. Give it a shot.
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9/10
The best coming-of-age romantic drama comedy film of 2013
YJLcool28 December 2013
Last year, we have the spectacular Perks of Being of Wallflower. This year, we have The Way, Way Back and most of all, The Spectacular Now. It is a lovely, heartfelt, sweet, gentle and sincere film. The Spectacular Now focuses on most teen experiences: first love relationship, 'living in the now' attitude towards life, fear of the future, alcohol and family issues. The story is about a charming, crude but troubled boy meets a reserved, shy, naive...yet sweet, smart girl/wallflower and managed to find a connection in each other. As the film progresses, it was shown that they enjoy hanging out together, helping and complementing each other. Sutter, the lead guy, plagued by alcoholism and family issues, must learn to confront his fears and face who he really is and learn what loving someone really means. Aimee, the lead girl, need to learn to stand up for herself against her controlling mother who might be potentially ruining her college future because she's responsible for partially paying the bills. The film may seem to be an average love story, but it carries a genuine believability to it. The film takes the first-love romance seriously but never falls to become the typical weepy Asian melodramas that Koreans are so fond of making. The two lead actors are great on screen, deliver strong convincing performance to let us believe that the love chemistry between them is real and managed keep the audience engaged throughout the film. There are some subtle humor throughout the film as well. What a deeply affecting film this is. It's the best coming-of-age romantic drama comedy film of the year. Rating: 9/10 "But the real challenge in my life, the real hardship, is me. It's always been me. As long as I can remember, I've never not been afraid. Afraid of failure. Of letting people down. Hurting people. Getting hurt. I thought if I kept my guard up and focused on other things, other people...If I couldn't even feel, well, then no harm would come to me. I screwed up. Not only did I shut out the pain, I shut out everything. The good and the bad. Until there was nothing. It's fine to just "live in the now". But the best part about "now" is there's another one tomorrow. And I'm gonna start making them count"
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10/10
A high school romance with more emotion and truth than any other
JustinBell424 January 2013
A high school romance between an alcoholic, party boy and a more reserved, shy, girl. This movie did an exceptional job of hitting reality. Everything about this movie was believable, and all the actors fit their roles. This movie had a similar feel in style to Ruby Sparks, in that at the heart it was a romance, but there was a lot more too it. Family drama, fear of the future, alcohol, and even friend drama were all in this, just like most teens experience.

In a Q&A afterwords an audience member asked why this was such a idealistic school, and why it didn't have any bullying and the truth is, because even though those exist, most schools don't have a serious problem with it.

Another audience member said they didn't recognize anyone in the movie, and that the lack of makeup made it feel more real. While the lack of makeup is true, this movie has quite the cast list.
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9/10
Truly spectacular
naregian24 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I am so glad I caught a screening of this film because I will definitely be seeing it again after it's wide release.

From the writers of 500 Days of Summer, which we all know wasn't just your average love story, comes a seemingly average love story in The Spectacular Now. But it isn't very average, and that's the beauty of it. The story observed here carries a genuine believability to it that allows a gushy teenage girl who searches for the perfect love story to be able to relate to the film in a way that isn't as unrealistic as some other popular romance films.

That's just what romantic films are right? Another relationship you wish you had? Not exactly the case here. Don't get me wrong, that is what this film is, but it really is much more than that. This film not only portrays an enviable romantic relationship between boy and girl, but also a relationship between man and life, man and the world, man and the now, and that's what allows it to be so powerful.

The acting across the board is great. I have found that movies like this that have relatively undiscovered actors and actresses as the lead roles allow for a good connection from the audience to the story, especially when the story is a good one like it is here.

Live in the now, because there's no way to know you're in the good ole' days until you've left them. And yes, I did steal that from The Office.

8/10

EDIT: Saw it a second time with a Q&A with Miles Teller after the film. Got to talk to him about 21 & Over real quick and he ended up talking a lot about how The Spectacular Now was somewhat rushed, shot in only 25 days and the most of the actors had met only minutes before shooting some intimate, emotional scenes such as the scenes with Sutter and his mother and father. Apparently the first words Kyle Chandler ever said to Miles were in character with the camera rolling. Also, *possible spoiler* but apparently the scene with Sutter and Amy's first bond moment at the party by the pond was a 5 minute rolling shot with the camera man holding a simple 35mm walking backwards, and at the end of the scene the camera man fell and they kept the "arsty" shaky shot of the sky in the film.

He was a really cool guy and was very humble and just pretty normal. Told me that filming 21 & Over was a "sh*t fest" and I said "must've been fun though!" he laughed and said "a fun, fun sh*t fest bro."

Really cool guy.
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9/10
An exercise in emotion and character - the best kind of exercise
StevePulaski1 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The Spectacular Now is a deep exercise in emotion and character, and a bold step in the right direction for teen films, which are becoming decidedly more naturalistic, involved, and human. Last year, we had the wonderful Perks of Being a Wallflower, and not two months ago we had the strong and touching The Way, Way Back. Now we are graced with such a wonderful look at a teenage relationship plagued by fear, alcohol, understanding, nervousness, and uncertainty that it almost hurts.

Miles Teller will be a recognizable face for some. He appeared in a faceless role in 21 & Over this year, which I regarded as tasteless comedy that was so heavily focused on partying and excessive raunchiness that it became almost as nihilistic as Project X. Here, he is the same character but given a personality and a believable, realistic touch. Teller plays Sutter Keely, a high school senior obsessed with living in the moment. He parties hard, drinks constantly, anything from keg-beer to hard liquor concealed in a flask, works in men's clothing, and discards the future as something that will just happen. He is woken up on the lawn of someone's home by Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley), a pleasantly average girl who is up early at 6am getting ready to do her mother's paper route. Aimee's mother has been controlling her for a long time, even potentially corrupting her college ambition because her idea of "living in the now" is paying bills and keeping the home straight.

Sutter and Aimee strike an immediate friendship. He introduces her to the luxury and openness of partying and drinking. She introduces him to the wonderful and eclectic world of Manga. The film beautifully illustrates how both parties were welcomed into a different little world they would've never experienced if it wasn't for the other person - and Sutter's alcoholic tendencies.

But overtime, Sutter's alcoholism worsens. He clearly drinks to get drunk, but remains functional when doing it. He starts to shun his relationship with Aimee, being fully aware he is bad news and not the guy she needs. She has long accepted his drinking habits because she can see the person he is at the core - caring, harmless, and immensely loving. Meanwhile, his ex-girlfriend comes in the picture every now and then. Her name is Cassidy (Brie Larson) and - rather than being a typical queen bee or spiteful ex-girlfriend - it's evident she ended their relationship based on the frustrating inertness Sutter posses. He doesn't have a plan and the only thing he can do when you ask him about it is take a sip out of his personalized flask. There's no future there.

Teller and Woodley have impeccable chemistry here. Woodley, once more, refines her role as the supporting girl with natural beauty in more ways than one like she did in Alexander Payne's The Descendants. They are only guided by the smooth, sensitive direction of James Ponsoldt, whose last film, simply titled Smashed, took a look at a young, first grade schoolteacher who was beginning to fall prey to alcoholism. Her addiction became so brutal, she lies and says her incident of throwing up in class is related to her untrue pregnancy and not a piercing hangover from the night before. The film showed how one's addiction to the bottle can compromise their life. Ponsoldt's follow-up effort is more about showing how the bottle (or flask in this case) can compromise a perfectly beautiful friendship.

Writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber make this a surprising tone piece, one that is more concerned with the loquacious behavior of teens rather than the raunchy behavior. A tremendous scene focuses on Sutter and Aimee walking away from a keg-party on the beach, deep into the woods, talking about their homelife and their favorite things in life. The scene is a four-to-five minute static shot and develops character nonchalantly and not forcefully, allowing for the naturalism to just sneak up on the audience. This isn't the only scene with Sutter and Aimee that tackle beautiful touching and realistic instances. Take for example the scene where they go to have sex. "Take your shirt off" she innocently says, and after he does - successfully exposing an ordinary male body - she follows, exposing another ordinary body and a white bra. When he giggles, just because of the circumstances, she tenderly covers up her bare midriff with her arms, to which he responds by lightly removing them from her stomach. They proceed to have sex in a blissfully unpredictable manner, deeply fixated on the bodies and the intimacy - not the nudity. This is another bold instance that will resonate and be remembered by teens more-so than the average sex scene in comedies, where breasts and hilarity are the only thing that matters.

The Spectacular Now's one minor missteps results when it gets too caught up with Sutter's story of being raised by a single mother who closets information on his father that it kind of forgets that Aimee is a major character here as well. We know Aimee's mom is controlling because she says so, but never do we see Aimee stand up to her or take action to her mother's dictative qualities. Equal humanization would've been divine seeing that humanization alone is one of the film's major goals.

The film concludes on yet another bold note, cementing that Neustadter and Weber didn't want to say too much. Much of the film operates on deep, character emotion, so attaching an ending that neatly packages things up would've been a complete contradiction to the film's focus. I initially thought some would be upset with the film's ending, saying it cheats the audiences, but if they were brave enough to seek out a smaller film of this magnitude, they shouldn't be disgruntled that it plays different instruments than other films of the same genre.
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2/10
This movie made me irrationally angry (Spoiler Review)
jeppehellegers11 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I get that this movie gets high ratings, I really do. The acting is good, some of the cinematography is really nice and the music is beautiful as well. The problem with this movie is the message. I was constantly waiting for the protagonist to get told what an egotistical asshole he is, but: it doesn't happen. At the end he has this monologue about how he didn't want to get hurt and thought "living in the moment" means he never has to grow up, woopdiedoo.

Also, people didn't get that the popular protagonist wanted to date Aimee(Shailene Woodley)? She is an incredibly beautiful girl, not really convincing as an intelligent nerdy virgin outcast who reads books I'd say. And yes, that's one of the stereotypes in this film.

A movie about a destructive teen with a destructive relationship who drinks and drives, thinks he is the coolest guy ever and would cheat if he had the opportunity. Saying you are afraid of failure, getting hurt and hurting people and pretty much emotion in general doesn't justify ANY of this actions in this movie. This guy should have been morally put in place by the author, but it didn't happen. Much potential, terrible execution.
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5/10
There's nothing spectacular about this movie.
santiagocosme23 October 2015
OK, there is... the title. But that's it. From the reading of the title til' the end of the movie, you will just go through a very average movie, based on a very average script. The story of a young lost man who feels completely uninterested in his future and just wants to live the now. We then realize that his missing father disappeared when he was a kid, and he tries to find him again. Only to discover that his father doesn't give a damn about him (what a surprise). But the important part is really the young man finding love in the most unlikely girl. In fact, she is so different that it's almost impossible to sense any chemistry between them during the movie. But since the director decided they should be together, it is what happens. I don't know, maybe I am too harsh, cause there was an attempt at doing something decent, but I love cinema, and this really left me completely flat.
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6/10
A Gentle, Almost Say Anything
britishdominion21 August 2013
Sundance-darling "The Spectacular Now" is a curious one. With a script by the guys who wrote "500 Days of Summer", the movie is about as slice- of-life as they come, and it is interesting and well-acted.

As the film unspools, it may subconsciously remind viewers of the imperfect messiness of Cameron Crowe's teen ode "Say Anything" - complete with a Cusack-like performance by Miles Teller.

Teller's Sutter character is smooth, confident, charming, occasionally- unlikable and flawed. It's an accomplished balancing act.

The centerpiece performance is really Shailene Woodley, as Sutter's new girlfriend Aimee. She gives the most natural performance of a teenager on screen in ages. Her unaffected, open assignment elevates every scene she's in.

Both performances are in service of a film that drifts through the senior high students' last weeks before the end of high school, and takes a mutedly-pessimistic approach of the future before our two leads. These two kids are invisibly shackled to their town, in their home life, their pasts. Echoing the crux at the centre of 1989's "Say Anything", Aimee figures an escape plan; Sutter seems to be blindly comfortable in his 'spectacular' now.

Pulling "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" alum Jennifer Jason-Leigh into the film as Sutter's world-worn mother was a nice touch. Her vacant-eyed mother is in keeping with the film's less-glamorous take.

The picture labours a bit too much in over-emphasizing Sutter's crutch, and the mid-film scenes visiting Sutter's estranged father had trouble finding the right tone between character and caricature. The movie doesn't feel any urgency to build to a conclusion, but when it does, it is understated, uneventful - kind of like our two characters, and sort of like real-life, too.

Life is messy, as is "The Spectacular Now". It eschews the studio slickness and over-plotted determination of more polished teenage products. Despite two grounded, award-worthy lead performances, this film seemed a touch sketched and ever-so-slightly inert.
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9/10
A very refreshing view of a real relationships with a real girl
farhad_is11 January 2014
Personally, this movie was better than all the 80's and 90's coming of age movies like St.elmo's fire, The breakfast club, Pretty in pink, She's all that etc... due to how real it feels.

Shailene woodley and miles teller portray two individuals who, while having their own troubles to deal with, are intrinsically good people who are just drifting along with the ebb and flow of life. They make no effort to change and are dealing with their issues in different ways until they meet each other. The audience can feel the chemistry between the two leads on-screen, and being in a loving relationship yourself can help to augment the experience even more due to how real it feels.

Shailene woodley is the real star of the show here, (in a role here for which the only other performance I feel comes close is Ione Skye in "Say anything" ) she portrays a girl who is such a good person at heart that you end up feeling almost protective of her during the movie. The kind of person she portrays is the kind of person any girl would aspire deep down to be. A deeply caring individual who puts her loved one ahead of herself. Because as we all know, only when you do that, can you truly feel every pang and flutter that comes with love.

Do yourself a favour, watch this movie to remember what it feels like to care for someone so much that it hurts, that you put everything on the line for the person for no other reason than the fact that you love them and want to see them happy.
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1/10
What did I just see
englishlover814 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Listen, I have been trying to write a decent review. But I just can't. This movie is just senseless. This pretty much sums up the story: -I have a perfect life, I have a perfect girlfriend. -Baby I didn't cheat on you. -Oh hey sweet and shy girl, let's make the most mainstream couple ever. -OMG you're so special. -OMG I told you to get out of my car! -OMG I'm sorry you were almost killed because of me. -I love you so much I will leave you alone in embarrassment. -I will just send an awesome college application, writing the most mainstream things ever, and I'm totally getting in.

I see no story and no character, just moody drunk kids who have no idea what they're doing. Weird movie. Don't waste your money.
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8/10
Now, I Get It
thesar-222 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
But, it took to the final few frames.

The Spectacular Now certainly wanted to be more than it was. While interesting, well paced, well made, well acted and kept the viewer going, it was uneven at spots, unsure of itself and took way too long to teach the lesson it wanted you to know.

I always love Miles Teller. He has this confidence and modesty, this humor and humble attitude with each role he takes on. He's high up and yet grounded, he's the coolest kid and still relatable. Some might see that he's the same in every role, but I disagree to a degree. He does have a bit of range and I think he'll only extend those lines with his future.

Here, he plays a sexually active, hard-drinking and laid way back high schooler who gets dumped by someone he fancied more than most girls and rebounds instantly with a less popular, more down to earth, but gorgeous inside young lady.

Tellet plays Sutter, someone who struggles but doesn't know why. He's confident, yet wonders how he is. He moves forward but feels stuck. Aimee, his new girlfriend, has many layers and is someone we should all know. And yet, Sutter might be plotting something, he might be messing with her, using her or he might actually need her.

While the movie has the indie feel, the urge to give us what we always watch these low-key high school romances for, it felt more real and true than a lot of the same genre I've witnessed. And while I struggled to get the "higher meaning" and WOW moment throughout, it wasn't until the final couple of shots that tied it all in for me and held my smile through the credits.

Give it a shot, watch it through and smile like me. It is an interesting and deeper movie than it appears on the surface…

* * * Final thoughts: But…..Fair warning. I've seen more drunk driving in this movie than on a full season of Cops. This is hardly ever explored or looked down upon in this movie. Honestly, I cannot believe how this is not condemned nor shown the true consequence of this needless and selfish act. If one can remember how horrible this deed is and not let these lucky characters get away without so much a scratch, i.e. understand this is fiction without real consequences, you should be able to still enjoy the film.
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5/10
The subtraction method
pcrawake18 December 2013
The Spectacular now had some funny dialogue, but by no means was it a comedy. You can read the synopsis of the story, which will give you an idea of what to expect, but the story did not matter to me.

Personally, I am sick of these movies: adult conceptions of what it is like to be in high school. Teenagers are 'cool' and 'witty' and 'so emotionally developed and open'. When kids are in high school, they are treated like idiots; yet, in movies they are god forsaken prophets.

People love movies like 'The Spectacular Now' and for some reason they always ring false to me, which is probably why I am wildly unsuccessful.

The main character, high school student, son to a single mother, he drives a better car than me and has a better computer; he works part time at a clothing store and drinks all the time. That's a cool character; he has great dialogue. He is not a teenager though. He is an adult creation of what a writer should have been like in high school. I know because I think about it all the time.

People call this a coming of age story with complex characters. That is what people want in a story, which I don't agree with (why I am very unsuccessful). If you take out the main character's dialogue and attitude, it's the typical guy loves a girl and you wouldn't expect them to love each other, but they do --- wow curve ball dramatic event to get you invested--work through emotional problems and realize one very small thing that can be almost like an eastern philosophical statement (applicable to nothing and everything at the same time, as water is never truly still).

But, the story was well crafted, the filming and production and dialogue were great. It was well written and every actor and actress performed wonderfully. If this movie wasn't getting popular, honestly (if it was rated as a 5) I'd probably rate it at an 8 just to show how much of a free thinker I am.
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2/10
Very far from spectacular
Quietb-17 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Here's a dialogue driven coming of age comedy drama. They walk and talk, stand and talk, sit at the table and talk. The dialogue is continuous and far from spectacular. The two most effective scenes have no dialogue; dad through the bar window, and the final scene at college.

There was one outstanding location but a choice was made to leave it and walk and talk in the woods. When characters lie revealing their back story it is difficult to like or trust them. Sutter lied about his father. Aimee "never had a boy friend" suggests they take off their shirts and pulls a condom out of the hat, for a sex scene that was long and uncomfortable on screen.

There isn't much new here, plenty of drinking, and perhaps except for a cartoon like car accident, most everything is predictable.

The movie looks dark as though there was no budget for lighting equipment. It's a movie that doesn't have to be seen in a theater. Actually it is not seen, it's heard.
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4/10
Not so spectacular
claudiatroglia9 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I really can't see why everyone seems so crazy about this film. It was depressing, at best. The performances were OK, specially Miles Teller's. Shailene Woodley is cute and sweet, but I'm not sure she can act. It didn't help that the characters (except for Aimee, Shailene Woodley's character) were really unlikable. I hated Sutter (Miles Teller) and I couldn't have cared less what happened to him. Why should we like him? Because his mom tells us that he has done some nice things off screen to a bunch of characters we haven't even met? So we should take her word that he's nice, because it really doesn't transpire. "What is a nice gift for a girl? A hip flask, off course." Forget college, kid, start attending AA meetings instead.

Another big problem is the script. The dialogs are supposed to be witty teenage talk; well, they were neither witty nor teenage like. It sounded too adult and boring. Every scene seemed forced, artificial and sometimes painful to watch.The sex scene was long and uncomfortable and I would have loved to ask those two kids what the hell they were laughing at. And that car accident scene! The only good thing about it was that at least it was the only unpredictable thing in the whole film.

Some users have compared this flick to John Hugues' films, I think that is just insulting.
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2/10
Biggest cliché of the year
malcolmponder23 August 2013
Upon exiting the movie, the guy in front of me was asked by the snack bar manager: "how was your hot dog?" (its a small local theater). His reply without missing a step: "much better than the movie". My voiced comment then was: "I didn't even have a hot dog and it was still better than this movie." A movie about a male, teenage alcoholic who drinks his way through the movie (including classes, work, social life), gives up the big breasted girlfriend for the wall flower and proceeds to turn her into a high school flask toter is not worth the time it takes to park outside the theater. I wish I hadn't believed Peter Travers' review (usually a good source of movie ideas for me)and wasted my time and gas to sit through this pathetic attempt at movie making. Malcolm 1040
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9/10
An amazingly real story of what it's like to be a teenager.
iKerswill12 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I'm currently in my final year of high school, and happened to stumble upon this movie as my high school experience is several weeks away from being over. My apologies for being original, but this movie changed my life and my outlook on everything. Almost immediately after I finished, I wanted to re-watch it and experience it again, and a week later I'm still hung up on it. Well what made this movie so special begins with the role of Sutter Keely, played by Miles Teller, and boy did Miles Teller give one of the greatest performances of his young career. I had always been a fan, but Miles played Sutter with such realness that it truly felt like you were watching Miles' last year of high school. The marvellous thing about the character of Sutter is he's the kind of guy you're not supposed to like, he's bold, selfish, loud, and drinks a fair share of alcohol. But it's all these qualities that make him so great, because like anyone, Sutter has flaws, but he is one of the most genuine, sweet, and funny characters I've ever had the pleasure of watching. When Aimee is introduced to the movie, she seems like your average girl, but she's far from it. Aimee is intelligent, kind, adorable, and absolutely beautiful. But how would anyone ever know? Nobody notices her, Sutter went to the same school as her and couldn't seem to remember her name. Being in high school, I look around sometimes and see so many great people that are strictly viewed as lesser simply because they're not popular.

Well, in John Hughes style, this film gives awareness to the fact that there are some amazing people out there, and you just have to look past their popularity to see them. Fatefully, Sutter and Aimee meet and all social hierarchies are thrown out as the two have an electric connection. The challenging part of the movie is that you are left to determine whether Sutter loves Aimee, feels bad for her, uses her as a rebound to get over Cassidy, or if he truly doesn't know. In addition to this, Sutter doesn't have a care in the world about the future, and while it's refreshing, Aimee is the kind of girl who deserves to be involved in someone's future, and it is unclear whether Sutter is ready to make that commitment. When it comes to Aimee, there's no question, Aimee loves Sutter immensely and would make any sacrifice necessary to be with him, even if she should be looking out for herself. When you analyze it to every detail, Sutter isn't great to Aimee, he's the best she's had, but he is madly in love with her one day, and brushes her off the next. After watching the movie several times and being able to relate to Sutter, I know he loves her, probably more than he would ever admit.

The thing is, while he's your average, outspoken, popular kid, he knows that he would be holding Aimee back and that she deserves better. As a viewer, your insides are screaming at him, 'Sutter just change, be the man she needs!' or 'Don't leave her, she needs you more than you realize! You love each other'. But Sutter can't, or doesn't believe he can. Thankfully, Sutter has a revelation that the only reason he's a 'distant' boyfriend or not good enough for Aimee, is himself. And when he realizes that the only thing that's ever held him back has been himself, he vows to change and begins to live in the now, and cherish every moment. I think the beauty of this revelation is a lot of us create self-imposed barriers, which we chose to believe we cannot get through, when in reality you can always be the change you want to see. Sutter realizes this, and whether its too late for him and Aimee is uncertain, but I sure hope its not because life is short, and if there's a lesson from this movie its to not let your desires get away, chase what you want, be around people who make you laugh, strive for sincerity, and above all else, live in the moment because you'll never be as young as you are right now.

The Spectacular Now manages to embody all of these lessons, and through this movie, I feel I have grown with Sutter, and all I can say is that the film may make you want to redo your teenage years, but that's okay because in a way you lived through Sutter and Aimee. The Spectacular Now is an incredible film and is definitely worth a watch. I loved it.
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1/10
Spectacular for all the wrong reasons :p
samcopeland9216 December 2014
I had the chance to go see a different movie but wanted to be a good bf at the time and see this with my lady because I said to myself hey it cant be as bad as twilight right OOOHHHH MAN WAS I WRONG!! This movie is the most pretentious piece of crap I've ever seen in the theaters.

Imagine a movie where every single character is a stereotype and not even a good stereotype. Theirs the obvious popular jock, the obvious popular girl, the obvious weird girl who is nice, and the obvious arse hat that everyone is supposed to relate too

This story tries to tell a coming of age story when its just crappy cliché after crappy cliché you don't give a crap about any of the other characters because you know nothing about them to begin with.

Then the movie gives us the main character of Strutter keep in mind this is the guy that's the main character the guy who we are all supposed to relate too in that age of the high school days, when it turns out that he is the most unlikable character ever put in a movie. He just wants to live in the now and party and get @%#% faced all the time, his gf breaks up with him so he gets a new one who is the only likable character in the movie, he takes her virginity and what does he do you may ask? He tries to make his ex jealous and tells his best friend "Whatever doesn't matter to me" You can never tell if this guy is sober when hes talking to this girl or wasted because he asks her out to prom drunk and what does he give her for a gift not a corsage that's way to likable he gives her a flask yeah that's a catch right there. When they get to the prom he doesn't dance with her he dances with his ex right in front of her, wow just wow.

Their is also this subplot in the movie about him wanting to know what his dad is like when he finds out who he is what do you expect a degenerate who never gave a crap about him and when his gf gets hit by a bus how does he cope by going to bar to drink his troubles away. The movie is so lazy so unlikable that the ending of this film and I'm not even joking here it ends on the Edward Cullen and Bella Swan ocward stare.

The thing that pisses me off the most is that almost every review I've read on this movie says its a masterpiece when this is an incredibly unlikable movie from beginning to end. Never in my life have I ever wanted to walk out of film and punch the ticket counter to make him give me my money back for sitting through this hour and a half of torture never and I mean never watch this movie EEEEEVVVVEEEEERRR!!!!
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9/10
Genuinely Honest and Heartfelt
starrj9326 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
For me it's rare that a movie will keep me thinking about it for days on end. I saw the movie last Saturday night... It's almost Friday and I'm still thinking about it. Personally, that's a sign that something inside me was triggered emotionally and left me wondering why and wanting more.

Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley were absolutely excellent in their roles of personifying real life tribulations that high school teens go through that not many people realize. Every emotion was raw and honest and really resonated with you throughout the film. Sutter (Teller) is a troubled high school senior who ponders the demise of his parent's relationship while proudly living "in the now." He falls in love with a quiet and sweet girl named Aimee (Woodley) who he at first denies his feelings for but comes to realize his true emotions for her and for his situation with his parents that carries you all the way to the end of the movie. Holy crap, I know I'm not making sense but you MUST watch this film.
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