The Spectacular Now

Movie Review #730


Directed by James Ponsoldt. Screenplay by Scott Neustadter an Michael H. Weber. (Novel: Tim Thorp.) Produced by Michelle Krumm, Andrew Lauren, Shawn Levy, and Tom McNulty for 21 Laps and Global Produce, presented by ALP. Starring Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Kyle Chandler, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Premiered at Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2013. Distributed by A24 in limited release on August 2, 2013; and in wide release on September 13, 2013. Rated R: alcohol use, language and some sexuality – all involving teens. Runs 95 minutes.

Cinemaniac Reviews four stars

A great movie is either too complex to put into words or simple enough to put into few words. Though if we narrow down “The Spectacular Now” to “boy meets girl,” it seems inaccurate. That’s the description of some of the most tasteless romances and, as “The Spectacular Now” pleasantly reminds, some of the most beautiful.

Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are greatly in control of this dramedy. Their relationship is set up on conversation, not circumstance. Think of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in “Before Sunrise”. It’s much like that, except there’s more focus on establishing depth in the story, particularly during the final third, where the movie takes its chance to subvert our expectations. Though in getting to this end, character is a factor of equal pertinence; these are simple, familiar characters that are compelling because we know them, not of them. Writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber have reprised the same paradox they introduced in their 2009 romantic comedy “(500) Days of Summer”: that the story and characters are completely familiar, yet something feels extremely unconventional. Better yet, what exactly is unconventional isn’t quite so obvious as it was in their earlier nonlinear script.

“The Spectacular Now” is pretty, witty, and bright. Its celebration of “the now” is convincing, enthralling, and optimistic–even in moments of pure tragedy. It’s a dialogue-fueled, springtiming escapade with such freedom and vibrancy, that it may as well be set in the summer.



14 thoughts on “The Spectacular Now

  1. Both Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are pretty phenomenal. I wrote in my review that they should be on the cusp of superstardom. That was a year ago. Since she just had the #1 movie in the U.S., I’d say my prediction came true.

    P.S. You’ve been mostly M.I.A on Fast Film Reviews this year. The #1 commentator has fallen out of the Top 5. 😉

    • I know. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t get the reviews at the same time I usually do. The full reviews also don’t come to my inbox. I keep meaning to get to a whole comment spree on your blog…maybe today actually. 🙂

      Oh and I loved your Divergent tweet. Your title suggestions are brilliant!

      On Sun, Mar 30, 2014 at 10:54 PM, Cinemaniac Reviews wrote:


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