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132 of 148 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 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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51 of 65 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!
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12 of 14 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.
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46 of 61 people found the following review helpful
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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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
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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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2014
Pretty unspectacular. I kept waiting for something to happen other than teenagers drinking constantly. This could have been an interesting movie if it was a completely different movie.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2015
Previews had made this movie out to be that a popular guy, not caring what others thought, was falling for an unpopular girl and didnt care what fellow classmates thought. This is not what the movie was about. It's about a young man who's an alcoholic, gets others around him drinking with him; so he can forget his everyday personal struggles.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2014
The acting was great, it's just that there were no redeeming quailities for the lead character in my opinion. The relationship was dysfunctional and very healthy...I couldn't feel happy for them. Would have liked to have seen more resolution.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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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