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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon August 31, 2013
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.
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on December 11, 2015
This is a good movie if you would like to watch a high school senior boy spiraling out of control. Acting is pretty good. Miles Teller is a lot like a young John Cusak. Story line can be slow at times, dialogue not all that purposeful. I think my main problem with this movie is the ending and the demise of the female lead at the expense of the male's growth. The movie sets itself up to be a coming-of-age tale. But as with most indie movies, it just falls short toward the end. It does not show enough growth on the part of the main character.



Also, the main girl, Aimee, in this movie gets treated horribly and keeps coming back for more. He turns her into almost as much of an alcoholic as him. She gets hit by a freaking car because they are fighting, and he's drunk driving as usual. Still, Aimee's supposed best friend is the only one that tries to stand up to Sutter for the way he's treating her (ironically, also Sutter's best friend tells him to stay away for the same reason). So basically, they rarely ever see their friends after that. Then Aimee's attitude is just that it's okay, he can do whatever to her, he can be reckless and stupid and generally an awful human being [under the guise of "coming of age"], and she's fine with it. Not to mention, he never gets over his ex Cassidy the entire movie, even at the graduation he's still obsessed with her. Again, Aimee takes a backseat to this.

Before Sutter, Aimee had a pretty quiet life. She had never even kissed a boy. She was responsible and took on her mom's paper route and paid her own bills. Yet, he turns her into a reckless, impulsive person just like him. It starts with a conversation between the two of him where his idea of her standing up to her mom is for her to yell "F*** YOU MOM." This movie is not something I would show to my teenage girl if I was a mother. Looking at it from an adult perspective, I can see that she is crazy for letting another human being treat her this way. But I could also see a young, impressionable teenage girl watching this and thinking that they should just keep coming back when they are being mistreated because yay, true love. No. You should not let yourself be emotionally abused, because your partner is an out of control, immature, raging alcoholic. The best you could do for this person is try to get them help and take a complete step out of the relationship.

If you look at the movie appropriately, Cassidy is the real heroine. She breaks up with him, because he is an alcoholic, keeps dumping on her, and has no future aspirations. Then, even though she misses him, she sticks to her guns about not getting back with him, because she realizes what trouble he is and that he has a lot of growing up to do on his own. Good for her.
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"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!
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on September 25, 2015
Expected a film about redemption and kept hoping for main character to find some insight or grow into a decent human being. We waited...watched...and, no, he was still an irresponsible, destructive, egotistical loser all the way to the end. Worse than that, the described "good girl" compromisses and abandons all her own promising values to become his co-dependent sidekick. Truly sad. Good acting, but I wonder about the mental and emotional fitness of the writer and the filmmakers who think this was a good story.
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VINE VOICEon February 5, 2014
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.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon May 6, 2015
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
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VINE VOICEon March 16, 2014
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.
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on November 11, 2015
I don't know how this movie could have negative reviews. We have all been Sutter, felt like we are giving our all and getting nothing in return, but then when we get what we need, we feel like we don't deserve it. I identify a lot with Aimee because boys were generally not interested in me and when they showed interest, I probably agreed too much and too fast. All the emotions are so real, you can identify with pretty much everyone: we all have the person who is too dependent like Aimee's mother, the need to get away from the old and see what we can do like Cassidy, the giving your all to people you think are deserving like Sutter (though I think he thinks everyone is deserving, it is his fatal flaw), the over trusting nature for people we feel wouldn't wrong us like Aimee. Also, the protective nature of Sutter's mother and sister, and Holly's dreaminess as well, the practicality we see in Sutter's friend and brother-in-law. This movie isn't finding someone to identify with, the movie *is* the thing you identify with. I love that it is an open ending, because isn't that what life is? Also, the acting from everyone is superb and feels so genuine. I think this should be required viewing. It may be a bit "slow", but that is the kind of film I like. What you see is what you get. I think this would be great for fans of Coppola films. Straight forward and in its simplicity, beautiful.
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on February 7, 2015
Just watched this movie after seeing all of the great reviews on amazon. Talk about a let down. I love Amazon but I'm really questioning it's rating system on this. I never write reviews but I feel a sense of obligation to let everyone know this is terrible. It's labeled as a romantic comedy but it was neither romantic nor funny. It's a story about a high school kid from a broken family who makes a lot of bad decisions- and you never really get on board with cheering for him. He's just a total jerk and has no redeeming qualities. The movie focuses on his love affair with a girl who he doesn't even seem to like that much- and who's basically just thrilled to have someone pay attention to her. I kept waiting for something to happen to get the film on track with some kind of meaningful point but it just never did. It meandered all the way to the bitter end with no great moment of inspiration or anything. I should have trusted my gut and turned it off after the first 5 minutes because it was pretty apparent that early on that the movie was bad.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 25, 2015
░░░░░ABSOLUTE SNOOZEFEST░░░░░

I do not understand the positive reviews of this movie. Despite the acting, which is admittedly stellar, the film is one giant snooze fest.

Again, the acting is great. The actors really sell their rolls as high school kids trying to figure their way out in the world. But the story is non existent. There is no plot to speak of. It's just watching a kid stroll through his senior year of high school. It's fragmented quite a bit with large chunks of time just being skipped.

The main character is completely unlikable. He's an alcoholic 18 year old who's pretty self centered.

It was literally a struggle to keep my eyes open for this movie. It gets 2 stars because of stellar acting. But that is the only redeeming quality to this movie.
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