The Spectacular Now Review

Reviews Films


A prizewinner at the Sundance Film Festival, Spectacular Now is an alt-teen entry in the world of teen films, though many have claimed, it doesn’t quite reinvent the genre.

The film does explore the issues of teenage alcoholism, love and the balance between either being careless, or living for the future, without the usual glamourising we are used to seeing.  Based upon the novel by Tim Tharp, it is a coming of age piece that could resinate with a lot of the current youth.

Miles Teller stars as Sutter Keely, he is the life of the party, but life has started to pass him by. His character is more interested in boozing it up than exams, graduation and his future.   When his girlfriend dumps him, Keely embarks on an alcohol binge and wakes up on the lawn of nice and somewhat sheltered girl Aimee (Shailene Woodley), who ends up believing that he is better then what is so obvious to the viewers.

There are plenty of stories in which women are cast in the roles of saving men from their own issues, meantime allowing their journey to take a back seat.  In that sense, the plot of this movie is no different.

While the story lacks, each actor involved put in an amazing performance.  So it should come as no surprise that Woodley and Teller received the Special Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Teller’s performance succeeds in walking a fine line between wanting to hate his character and wanting him to succeed.  Shailene Woodley has quickly emerged as the young actress to watch. She seem to play the vulnerable, love struck Aimee with ease.  The two performances together allow the audience to explore the different viewpoints young adults can have regarding love, family, their future and purpose.

The very talented Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kyle Chandler star as the disconnected parents of Keely.  While very brief, their appearances add depth to a story that should have been explored a bit more.

James Ponsoldt is a sleek director.  His style in Spectacular Now is lo-fi and grainy, which gives this movie the natural moody look.   Not much different to the style used in “The Perks of being a Wallflower”.    One of the best aspects of this movie is that James trusts his stars (and rightfully so) to carry the movie.   He opted for a style of shots that gives the audience a sense of the awkward and sometimes disturbing teenage emotional connection the characters have.

The buzz about this movie is somewhat different when you talk to move critics and regular audiences, and I can see why.  From a critic point of view the acting and cinematography is superb.  However, from a regular audience point of view, the story is lacking in something.  The best way to describe the narrative is – disjointed.  It doesn’t explore most of the issues that are brought up extensively.  The story simply moves on to the next problem.   The ending is a perfect example of that, it seems to just randomly end while trying very quickly to neatly tie it up.    This movie could have been brilliant with some extra tweaking but the film adaptation of the story lets it down.  I have to give it 5 stars out of 10.

Spectacular Now is currently out in cinemas.

Best known as the international woman of mystery and the Chandler Bing among her friends. Monika grew up in a movie loving family in Europe, which meant she was not subjected to much censorship.  Her love of all things horror and action began very early on as a result.  Despite it all, she is not as big of an oddball as everyone (including family) originally predicted.   Thinks the term "chick flick" should be banned worldwide.