Friday, August 9, 2013


The Spectacular Now

The Spectacular Now official site In this scorching hot summer heat (except in San Francisco), when multi-complex theaters are crowded with mindless, explosive, and superhero blockbusters that are particularly targeting the teenage audience, it's refreshing to see an excellent film about teenagers that is earnest, character driven, and superbly acted—director James Ponsoldt's bittersweet "The Spectacular Now" (USA 2013 | 95 min.).

Charismatic Sutter (Miles Teller) is a senior at a High school in Athens, Ga. Even he looks nothing like a preppy teen idol or a beefy football star, his charm always gets the attention from girls. After a recent breaking up with his girlfriend, Sutter meets a shy, sweet schoolmate Aimee (Shailene Woodley), who never had a boyfriend before. Although Sutter isn't too serious about the relationship at first, he begins to like Aimee. On the other hand, Aimee is completely falling for Sutter. Even Sutter's friend sees that Sutter is going to be a heart-breaker for Aimee.

Carefree Sutter lives with his mom (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and doesn't think much about the absence of his dad. Encouraged by Aimee, with the help from his well-married sister Holly (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Sutter goes to look for his Dad (Kyle Chandler). That visit shatters Sutter's mind and forces him to reevaluate his relationship with Aimee.

The Spectacular Now Official Site

Director James Ponsoldt terrifically adapts a novel by Tim Tharp and presents us two realistic teenage characters that are far from perfect almost in every aspect. It's a welcome departure from the superficial characters that are dominating most movies about teenagers. He could not have accomplished that without the striking and persuasive performance from the two young lead actors: Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley.

Sutter cannot be any more different from Aimee. He is so outgoing that he claims to be the "life of the party;" he is a slacker at school; he lives at the present; and he constantly sips on booze. Miles Teller perfectly pitches the right note at almost every scene. On the other hand, Aimee is quiet and sweet; she is a dreamer with hope; she longs for the future; and she is insecure and vulnerable. Shailene Woodley can't be more convincing in playing Aimee. But Sutter is not a player without a warm heart, and Aimee is not a model student without any mischief in her blood. She picks up on drinking from Sutter pretty fast, doesn't she?

But Sutter's excessive drinking as a teenager is both shocking and disconcerting. Did Sutter's mom buy him all the whiskey he carries around in a flask? Otherwise, how come she never says anything (in the film)? It's hard to believe that she doesn't know about it when Sutter constantly refills from a flask he carries around, either at work, or while driving. Even after he gets into accidents, his underage drinking never appears to be a problem with the police or adults around him. As for Aimee, she happily joins Sutter to drink together!

It's comforting to know that once they get sober, Aimee can face the present for a moment besides dreaming about the future, and Sutter may look beyond the present if he doesn't want to follow the footsteps of his dad. It's called grownup.

"The Spectacular Now," an A24 release, opens on Friday, August 9, 2013 in San Francisco Bay Area.

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