Review: The Spectacular Now surprise hit of summer

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The Spectacular Now, adapted from Tim Tharp’s book with the same title, is clever, witty, and the biggest movie surprise of the summer.

Set in Athens, GA, Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) faces a broken heart, a new, unexpected love, a turbulent senior year of high school and alcohol dependency.

Yearning so much to not be like his unreliable, flighty father, inevitably, he ends up just like him. Sutter totes a convenience store “big gulp” size cup with him everywhere drinking away his fears.

He meets a quiet not-so-popular hometown girl, Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley), who changes his look on life as she overwhelms him with love and affection.

 

Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller in ‘The Spectacular Now.’ (A24 Films)

Also in the early spring release 21 and Over, Miles Teller captivates young audiences with his fresh screen presence and his authentic free spirit. Any young adult can relate to the characters he plays because there so many wondrous attributes that help you identify with your own younger years.

I’m 25 and because of his recent bad boy portrayals in movies, I can vividly remember senior-itis at Schenley High School when I just didn’t want to go my first period English 4 IB course. Or when I was in college and every college student anticipated in agony until the day when they were legally allowed to consume alcohol. Some experiences are universal and take you on a pleasant, grateful trip down Memory Lane.

More than just an acting gig, in The Spectacular Now, you can clearly see scars all over Miles Teller’s body. Not hidden by makeup or advanced technology, directors of the movie wanted to keep the scars visible to make the movie more realistic. Teller suffered life threatening injuries after a 2008 car accident where he was ejected 25 feet from the car. Ironically, the movie has a similar car accident involving Teller’s character Sutter.

I sat down with the writers of The Spectacular Now, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, who also wrote (500) Days of Summer. Neustadter and Weber shared their 5 year journey of writing the screenplay and the difficulty of turning a book into a real life movie. “This whole movie was about how do we make young people feel that this movie is real,” said Neustadter. His co-writer Webber quickly added, “It felt really honest to us.”

The writing duo takes pride in every project despite the complexity this time around of turning a book into a movie. “There’s a bit of ambiguity to every thing we write,” said Neustadter.  Who knew that this funny love story all started with a book that Neustadter and Webber fell in love with years ago.

4 STARS: The Spectacular Now is an acquired taste but once you get acclimated there’s no doubt that you’ll enjoy it. I know it’s a lot to ask for a movie but it’s well worth it. The Spectacular Now is in select theaters now.

 

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