Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Being the good and curious film reviewer that I am, I had to read some other movie reviews about The Spectacular Now before seeing the movie. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 92%, certified fresh rating, with critics calling it “original”, “zesty”, “humane” with lead actors Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, described as “wonderful” and “one of the most appealing onscreen couples in recent memory”. When so much praise is given to a movie, my first feeling is excitement… and then skepticism crawls in. There have been a lot of movies that have been called "a revelation”, but when I see them, I discover inconsistent plots, poorly fleshed out characters, and/or truly bad endings.
The Spectacular Now is a film that does not strive to reinvent the teen rom-com genre of the 80’s, 90’s, and early 00’s, instead it reminds us of movies like She’s All That and Can’t Buy Me Love, showing authentic emotion through, unfortunately, everyday realities for many families.
The film starts off very simply, introducing us to Sutter (cleverly named after Sutter Home Wines, I wonder?) exquisitely played by Miles Teller. Sutter immediately lets the audience know that he’s an easygoing, average high school kid, who, like many of us that went through the trial of writing a college admissions essay, doesn’t quite know what to write. But he’s popular, has a hot girlfriend, has a nice job that tons of high school and college kids right now would kill for, and he's the life of every party. After all, he does "live in the now" as shown in the opening scenes before the title shot, in crisp cinematography from Jess Hall and James Ponsoldt’s direction.
The unpretentious power of Miles and Shailene’s acting is a gift for all to feast their eyes and ears on. I won’t be surprised if Woodley is at least nominated for a Film Independent Spirit Award. Their performances were original and they seemed at ease in every frame. At many points during the movie I wondered if the director had decided to do away with some scripted dialogue and just let them improvise.
Extremely well written and relatable, this movie leaves you wanting more because Aimee and Sutter are the type of characters that you want to see grow in a few more films or in a TV show based on the movie. Then there is the rest of the cast, chock filled with tremendous talent such as Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kyle Chandler,Jennifer Jason Leigh and Dayo Okeniyi. I was particularly blown away by the transformations of Chandler and Winstead, having seen a great amount of their past work. Can youimagine Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights as a neglectful, alcoholic father? Or Kate Lloyd from The Thing as an uppity socialite?
If you or anyone you know has dealt with the devastating effects of alcoholism, you’ll understand Sutter and his story. If you or anyone you know has ever had a dream, and of all the people, it's a parent standing in the way of that dream, you’ll understand Aimee's story. But mostly, you’ll fall in love with Aimee and Sutter’s story, as you navigate their first meeting down to the frustrating last scene they share with one another. I only call the last scene frustrating because you just don’t want the story to end.
This weighty, coming-of-age tale may be too simple to grab the attention of movie-goers impatiently waiting for the next installment of The Hunger Games trilogy; but if you are starving for quality acting, characters to dream with and applaud for, lovely visuals, and a clear, significant storyline with twists, you have to check out The Spectacular Now!
LAMB Score 4.5 out of 5
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