The Spectacular Now



2013
Directed By James Ponsoldt



The Spectacular Now is everything a coming of age story should be. It’s poignant without being preachy, funny while remaining truthful and uncomfortable as hell at times.  It is an honest film about growing up and facing the great unknown that comes after high school, something we can all remember and relate to. But it tells that story without the forced nostalgia of other mainstream films.

Miles Teller plays Sutter Keely and his performance is nothing short of astounding. His role is very well written but in the hands of a lesser performer the movie could have fallen apart. I can’t think of many films where I so completely disliked a character at a films onset and by its conclusion I was fully pulling for him to get his shit together.  Shailene Woodley plays Sutter’s rebound girlfriend named Aimee and also turns in a stellar performance.
This is Ponsoldt’s third film, and his third film which deals with alcoholism. In Smashed alcoholism was a central part of the story, in Now drinking is just an activity enjoyed constantly by the teen characters with a brief but deeper exploration in backstory. Now is also much less a cautionary tale than Smashed, lacking the heavy-handedness that comes from those kind of stories.
The entire supporting cast is great in the few scenes they appear, including Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bob Odenkirk and Kyle Chandler. Ever since Friday Night Lights, Kyle Chandler has been stereotyped in roles as the authority or fatherly figure. While Chandler does play a father in this film, it isn’t the usual fatherly shtick. Chandler’s performance is as different as you could possibly get from his previous films, and I loved it.
This is a rare films that mixes comedy, drama and romance with teenage leads and manages to remain honest and thought provoking. It’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime and worth 2 hours of your time. If you like yourself and want to do yourself a favor watch the Spectacular Now if you hate yourself and feel the need to punishing check out Star Trek Into Darkness.