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The Spectacular Now Review

By Geoffrey Morrison

Spectacular(ish) Now

SpectacularNowI initially misjudged the main character of this movie, and in so doing, initially misjudged the start of this movie. It wasn't hard, he doesn't start very likeable.

Sutter Keely is that Fun Bobby character that everyone knew in high school. Always the life of the party, doomed to never grow up. The opening scenes paint him as a sort of player, saying what he can to get what he wants. An unapologetic drunk and part-time loser, Keely is not endearing.

Except, as the story plays out, it becomes clear that he's not a player type looking to use people. He genuinely likes people. His charm comes from a place of wanting desperately to be loved. And that, of course, sets up the rest of the movie. How does a person so desperate to live in the (spectacular) now, plan for the future?

While the pacing of the movie is generally slow, the cast makes for an interesting ride. Miles Teller is completely believable as that fun loving guy from high school you knew peaked senior year, and would never move beyond that. Even more impressive is Shailene Woodley, playing with incredible sweetness and vulnerability, girl-next-door type Aimee Finicky. I missed "The Descendants", and she was supposed to be great in that too, so I guess I'll have to pick it up.

The rest of the cast is no less impressive, though Brie Larson, Bob Odenkirk, and Jennifer Jason Leigh are all woefully underused. Mary Elizabeth Winstead owns her few scenes. Perhaps the best of the supporting cast was Coach Taylor himself, Kyle Chandler. Playing the crucial role of Keely's dad, the few scenes he's in tie most of the rest of the movie together.

The more I think back about specific scenes, and rewatching the trailer (which shockingly, doesn't make this movie out to be something it's not), I find myself liking the movie more and more, and wanting to watch it again. It's a character-driven film, with characters you like and want to see succeed. That in itself is a treat.

So really, once I got over that initial hump of distaste for the main character, I was able to sit back and enjoy the movie. And it was worth it to stick along for the ride. Thinking about it, not liking him at the start made the whole thing better.

While I doubt "The Spectacular Now" will end up very high on the pantheon of great teen films, it is still a very enjoyable movie, beautifully shot and well acted, and worth 100 minutes of your time.

What did you think?

Movie title The Spectacular Now
Release year 2013
MPAA Rating R
Our rating
Summary Growing up means drinking less (apparently).
View all articles by Geoffrey Morrison
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