113 of 126 people found the following review helpful
This is a theatrical review. There may be spoilers.
I think I will have to clear room on my Top Ten list for 2013 for this beautiful little film about two teenagers finding each other. Director James Ponsoldt has affectionately taken Tim Tharp's novel and slowly allows the characters to fall in love while the audience watches. I can't say enough about Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley's strong chemistry together which results in strong performances. Nothing seems like dialog, just extemporaneous words flowing from their mouths.
Sutter (Teller) is a high school senior who is perhaps best known as the class clown. He's funny, easily approachable and fun to be around. He's not a jock nor the smartest kid in school. But he likes school. His biggest problem is that he is drunk most of the time. Sometimes just pleasantly drunk, sometimes very drunk. One day after a party, he shows up on the lawn of a classmate he barely knows. Aimee (Woodley) helps her mom deliver newspapers and her never-seen mom got in late, so Aimee scoops up Sutter and off they go delivering papers at 6 AM.
The casting is perfect for this movie. Both actors (and supporting actors as well) look and talk like high school seniors. Neither are the traditional Hollywood studs and starlets you typically find in movies like this. Shirts do come off, but the setting is right when they do. While I suspect their looks were purposely dressed down, they look...well...average. So does Sutter's ex-girlfriend and his best friend. So does Aimee's friend. How refreshing.
As the shy Aimee and extroverted Sutter spend more time together, bad and good characteristics rub off on each other. Each helps the other confront their mothers. In Sutter's case, his mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) won't tell him about his father's whereabouts. It's been years since he's heard from him. I expected the bomb to be dropped that dad is in prison or something. You know, more Hollywood. When he eventually gets the phone number from his married sister (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), he and Aimee make the 3 hour drive. Unfortunately dad (Kyle Chandler) is a drunk womanizer, pretty much like his mother suggested.
No matter how old we are, everyone can remember that first love. It never leaves our memory. I can promise that "The Spectacular Now" will give those memories a bit of a jolt. This is an authentic film about young love. Highly recommended.
49 of 61 people found the following review helpful
"The Spectacular Now" (2013 release; 95 min.) brings the story of Sutter (played by Miles Teller), a HS senior who is enjoying life in the moment, with no worry in the world as long as he has his whisky flask or other alcoholic beverages nearby (which is all the time). One day Sutter gets dumped by his girlfriend Cassidy and after a drunken night out, he wakes up in someone's front yard (not knowing how he got there). He gets found by Aimee (played by Shailene Woodley), a HS classmate of his. Aimee is the complete opposite of Sutter in every which way: withdrawn, smart, considerate. Yet Sutter takes an interest in her. Along the way, we learn that Sutter is dealing with `daddy issues'. His dad left when he was a little kid. Sutter confronts his mom to try and get his dad's contact details. Will Aimee fall for Sutter? what about the other way around? And what's with this mysterious past of Sutter's dad? why did Sutter's parents really break up? To tell you much more of this plot would surely ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Several comments: this is the third feature film from director James Ponsoldt, who just last year brought us another top quality indie movie called Smashed (starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul). Interestingly, alcohol dependency also plays a critical role in this movie. The script is based on the book by Tim Tharp (I did not read the book, so cannot comment to what extent, if any, the movie's plot deviates from the book). Despite the gorgeous movie poster and the cute trailer for the movie, "The Spectacular Now" is at times not an easy movie to watch, in the sense that Sutter is a mostly unlikeable and self-absorbed jerk whom you'd like to give a slap in the face and yell "wake up!". When Sutter gets dumped by Cassidy, his boss at work comments "I really thought she would be the one to yank you out of neutral", to which Sutter responds "But I'm in overdrive!', completely clueless. All the more credit to Teller for playing this character with authority and credibility. But what about Woodley's performance! After playing lead in TV's "The Secret Life of the American Teenager", she burst out of nowhere on the big screen a few years ago in "The Descendants" (playing George Clooney's on-screen daughter). It is Woodley's screen time that makes this movie as enjoyable as it is in the end. And if you wonder about that quote I put in my review title: just watch the movie...
This movie made a splash when it debuted at the Sundance film festival earlier this year, and it's easy to see why. So glad this finally made it to Cincinnati. This opened here today at the local art-house theatre, and the matinee screening that I saw this at was very well attended, I am happy to say. I read somewhere that this movie was shot on a budget of just $2.5 mill., mere peanuts in Hollywood terms, and proving once again you don't needs a comic action hero or a $200 mill. budget to make a movie that engages the audience. Bottom line: if you are in the mood for a top quality indie movie that is miles away from your standard Hollywood fare, you cannot go wrong with this. "The Spectacular Now" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
44 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Every year many indie films come out. My problem with these indie films is the level of varying consistencies of the characters. Most inevitably result in the character TRANSFORMING, there is something that changes the "poor thing" into "something else" While such films may also be entertaining, they lack a much needed continuity in characters. Often many films don't even scratch the root level of their own theory and work on sheer amusement and drama purposes. To add to that ragatag they go ahead and introduce a catchy soundtrack. But seldom are they confident enough to express a determination to grab the full five stars.
THIS IS WHERE "Spectacular Now" shines. The protagonist isn't your run of the mill jock. Instead of frowning about his break up with his beautiful girlfriend, he's excited to see how life will turn out different now. He is happy, ecstatic and anything but nervous right from the get go. Nothing can dampen his spirits. I thought the guy who played Sutter was very intriguing to watch. He is always drinking and is very self assured and comfortable with himself.
The film never jumps out of its frame to grab your attention though it will keep you waiting for that moment where it will surprise you. What really worked for me was the likability of the actors and how different they were from one another and always remained so. The music is lovely, the sets are wonderful, the acting is very good and the director nailed it right from the get go. You will love it, trust me. Worth owning.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
The trailers made me expect more humor than I received. Also, at no time did I really believe that Sutter ever really loved Aimee. And while Aimee was supposed to grow out of being a push-over, it hurt too much to see the pain Sutter caused her before she was able to get on the bus that took her away from everyone.
The romance didn't work for me either, because it's obvious that Aimee's madly in love with Sutter and he is still pining after his ex. I understood that these characters were discovering themselves, but I just didn't like nor was I in the mood for this kind depressing realism to my romantic coming of age story. I was expecting something more uplifting, more sweetly romantic and more affecting than this tough love plot.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2014
Don't get me wrong, the actors in this movie are top notch, no doubt. I just think, for me anyway, the movie just wasn't as great as it could be... Strangely paced with an almost unconvincing message... i don't know, maybe I just built it up too much in my head.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2014
95 minutes but felt more like 4 hours. I thought the very beginning and the very ending were really god but in between, no. Boring movie about a high school senior who is an alcoholic who feels like no one cares.
Soundtrack was practically non-existent. I think appropriate music would have made it a much better movie. I did love the lead actor Miles Teller, who was perfect for the role, and it was awesome to see Kyle Chandler (Early Edition) in his small role (but you have to make it that far in the movie first), and "Saul" from BB makes a short appearance :).
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2014
Going into this movie I worried that it could end up as a bit of an after-school special. But what makes this film interesting is that the characters just live their lives, while we as an audience reflect on the significance of their actions and choices. The film never resorts to telling us what to think or forcing specific judgements on the audience. Five people could watch this film and believe the story was about five different things. They might even disagree about whether it ended on a positive or negative note. Not in-you-face emotional or dramatic, just quietly real.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2014
Cute movie, Shailene Woodley is great in this movie that covers a lot of relevant topics about addiction, family life, and relationships. It's not the happiest movie, but my wife and I agreed it was a good date night movie in the end.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2014
Insert teens facing adult problems with boring plot. It could've been a shorter if this were real life. Teenage boy drinks and drives, teenage boy dies and kills a family of five. There's no way some kid could down that much whisky and drive that straight. Not realistic.
Don't get me started on the weak female roles. Thank you for bringing womankind down a couple of notches.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is a coming of age movie following the life of Sutter, played by Miles Tellar, as he encounters what almost every teenager faces around graduation; the prospect of the future. He's into living in the 'now' and loving life and as such, hasn't taken life seriously. He suffers a break up and then meets Amiee, played by Shailene Woodley; a nice, innocent girl who has big plans for the future. The movie's mainly about these two characters but it's not just about a love story; it's about teenage life and facing the challenges that come with it. This is a popular genre of late and although they don't bring anything particularly new to the table, the performances and script are still great are more than enough reason to warrant a viewing.
The two characters contrast each other very well; with him being the party boy who's just into drinking beer and having a good time while she's the stay at home hard worker who studies and follows her parent's wishes. They highlight each other's strengths and flaws and it makes for some great character interactions. This is helped by the amazing chemistry that Tellar and Woodley have; they're electrifying on screen, their romance is believable and very sweet.
Sutter has familial problems and while it looks like he tries to help Aimee with hers, she ultimately ends up helping him with his. Again, this has been done before but there's just something about Woodley; she's incredibly gorgeous, stunning, funny and charming; she's innocent and sweet and you just buy into her character completely. Sutter is another story; as a character, there are times he's very inconsistent, but maybe this was meant to portray the spectrum of teenagers and how they are. Initially it's frustrating but as Sutter develops, you feel a sense of reward for investment in his character. The only problem is that, just like typical romantic movies, his development comes right at the end so you're stuck being upset with him until then.
It's a simple movie; it doesn't try for an over-arching plot with plot twists nor does it try to over-complicate itself. This is both a pro and a con as by the time the curtains fall, you realize that the movie played it safe and the story has some loopholes with an incredibly abrupt ending. There are a few scenes that don't really fit the general tone of the movie, but I can't really talk about them as that'd be spoilerific. It was sadly predictable due to its simplicity and attempted cliche pulls on the heart strings.
Overall, a good movie that you can't help but feel could have been better. The primary reason would be to watch for the amazing chemistry that Tellar and Woodley have; I reiterate that she's just so sweet and one of the most likeable characters I've seen in a long time. While it doesn't bring anything new to this genre, it should still be viewed by fans of this type of a movie; be forewarned that it's a slow movie and takes time to develop, so it's not for everyone. Woodley, you've won my heart. 7/10