REVIEW: The Spectacular Now

16 08 2013

I really did like the first act of “The Spectacular Now” because it felt honest and real. Miles Teller’s Sutter Keeley felt like someone I would have known in high school, a burgeoning alcoholic with a big unchecked ego. And Shailene Woodley’s Aimee Finicke reminded me quite a bit of myself, someone bookish but a bit insecure and completely unable to picture anyone having romantic feelings about them.

I was so looking forward to the direction that the film was heading … and then Sutter and Aimee share the moment we saw coming a mile away, their first kiss. From there on out, “The Spectacular Now” heads south as the authenticity of the story and the believability of the characters flies out the window. The script, penned by “(500) Days of Summer” scribes Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, descends into a mire of archetypes and cliches.

It’s a little more understandable for Sutter to become a flat character as his personality is so based on living up to a cultural ideal of care-free ignorance. But it’s disappointing to watch Aimee just a flip a switch and become a totally different person. Before the kiss, she was so refreshingly independent and derived her sense of self-worth from within, not from others. Afterwards, Aimee becomes little more than an accessory to Sutter, fawning over him at all times and constantly caressing him.

Spectacular Now

In short, they become that super annoying PDA couple that you loved to hate in high school and muttered “get a room” under your breath as you passed them pecking by the lockers. Only they get awfully hard to love as Miles Teller turns Sutter into a bad Shia LaBeouf caricature and Shailene Woodley gets annoying and clingy. (And mind you, I was a big fan of her performance in “The Descendants.”)

Their story also takes on the trajectory of a sappy Nicholas Sparks melodrama. There’s some alcoholism, awkward sensuality, family tension, ex-girlfriend issues, a faux tragic climax … and, oh yeah, a copious helping of ANGST! I was hoping “The Spectacular Now” would avoid checking the box by all these teen drama hallmarks, but it sadly veered off its original course towards the traditional. And I just found myself laughing as it aimed for seriousness but just played like a lazy ripoff.  C2stars

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3 responses

16 08 2013
Robert

I have been reading mixed thing on this, I will watch eventually. I did enjoy the book that it was based on

16 08 2013
CMrok93

I don’t see very eye-to-eye with you on this, and I usually do with most movies. Where this flick worked for me was in the spots it felt like I was watching real kids, go through the same real problems that most I knew, and still know, go through. It touched me, and woke me up a bit. Nonetheless, solid review.

19 08 2013
Marshall

I thought they started off real and then just became clichés. Teenagers are tough to pin down, though.

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