The Spectacular Now Review
I think why some people gravitate toward the romance genre is because we get a glimpse into two individuals who need each other. The feeling of belonging is a feeling I think everyone strives for, whether they realize it or not. With that sense of belonging, you can open yourself up to half a dozen creative venues that make a great film. For some reason, most filmmakers who tackle the romance genre seem to confine themselves in the cliches, and because of that, we are sentenced to bad movie after bad movie each year. Only movies that are very special ever make a dent in the genre.
I would not call "The Spectacular Now" a romance movie, far from it. I know that is probably what it looks like at first glance, but this is not a romance movie. Oh sure, it revolves around two teenagers in love with one another, but that doesn't mean anything. "The Spectacular Now" is a drama about two people who need each other, two people that open up the positive sides of each other and allowed them to flourish. This couple challenges one another, comforts one another and the result is a piercing story that hit me deeper than I expected it to.
Sutter (Miles Teller) is what one would refer to as a "bad boy." He doesn't pay much attention in school, he lives to party, and he seems to block any piece of emotion out of his everyday life. His parents are divorced and his mother is always working, so that lives Sutter to be a total free spirit. Sutter is very much about living for the day, and not taking a great deal of thought into any sort of future. Sutter used to date a girl named Cassidy (Brie Larson) but that fell through as many teen romances do, and Sutter is drifting through life until he meets Aimee (Shailene Woodley).
Aimee is a nice girl, even somewhat of a sheltered girl, but not a prude. She does well in school, so well she's pretty much guaranteed a bright future. However, she's always been tied down by the satisfaction of others. Her family runs her life with an iron hand and she does everything her friends expect her to do. She is immiediately judged by her friends for merely going to lunch with Sutter, however she is still drawn to his carefree persona. In turn, Sutter doesn't take her connection seriously with Aimee at first, but he gradually gives into her sweet, innocent demeanor. Sutter is so afraid of commitment that he pushes her away, just like he does to everyone who wants a positive connection with him. He only realizes in time that Aimee and Sutter were alike in many ways, and they allowed each other to heal.
I've been singing the praises of Miles Teller for as long as I can remember, and he breaks out in a big way here. If you look at "Rabbit Hole," "Project X," "21 and Over" and the "Footloose" remake, no two performances are alike. He is constantly proving with every movie that he has range and he is going to be an incredible talent to look for as his career grows. The only thing I dreaded the most about "The Spectacular Now" was Shailene Woodley. I can't stand her or almost anything she's been involved in. I have to say though that she really nails it in "The Spectacular Now." Both Teller and Woodley create a realistic portrayal of young love. The awkwardness, the glow, the ticks, the mannerisms, they are a very believable couple.
I think many people will resonate with "The Spectacular Now" as they will see reflections of themselves in the movie. I think many people will also be drawn to the well-crafted story the film has to offer. I was certainly surprised tonight and I love a good surprise.
FINAL GRADE: A