The Spectacular Now is a tiny movie that is spectacular. It's not a teen movie, it's a human movie. It flows - it's well acted, well written, and the characters are folks you get to know and care about. Shailene Woodley (from the Descendants) continues to bring heart and soul to a teen girl role. She's pretty without being gorgeous, and so normal. Miles Teller (from Footloose) exudes personality, but again is nice looking without being too pretty or too macho. These kids mesh on screen and you root for them.
I am gushing, but it's because as a critic, a movie like this is refreshing. Sutter (Miles) is the party boy senior dating the prettiest girl, until he's not. Turns out he's way fun, but no one takes him seriously. His drinking is out of hand (he always has a flask, and is sipping from a fast food soda). It's senior year and time to buckle down and figure out the future. His ex is now dating the football scholar class president. After a raucous night, Sutter wakes up in the front yard of Aimee. She knows him, he fakes knowing her. She's quiet and is off to do her mom's paper route. Sutter tags along, and a friendship begins.
Only he thinks he's doing her a "favor" - letting her date a "cool" kid (in his mind), even though in reality she offers him far more - she tutors him, shows him how to love (not superficially), shows him loyalty and maturity. Does he break her heart? Sure. Does she break his? Sure. It's senior year and these kids are trying to figure out life, while dealing with family issues - missing dad, deceased dad, mothers who are doing their best. The Spectacular Now has serious themes, but is buoyed by humor and grace. It is a quietly spectacular addition to the fall movie scene.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.