One of the many films this past year that garnered critical acclaim was The Spectacular Now. It did well at Sundance, it received a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, naturally I was intrigued. Then I watched the movie. I'm really confused, was it supposed to be good?
Based on the book by of the same name by Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now tells the story of Sutter (Miles Teller), a charming hard-partying high school senior whose outlook on life changes when he meets Amy (Shailene Woodley), the "not so typical nice girl".
I know, from that summary, this movie sounds like every other high school movie. However, I felt like the writers were trying too much to make the whole story real. Have it relate to actual high school students and show life as it really is, etc. I, on the other hand, was not pleased with this attempt. The story was weak and did not make sense at times. Not every high school student drinks, parties, and is promiscuous! I understand they were trying to portray this dimension on the character of Aimee but she just turns out to be smart girl who does not seem to have any judgmental common sense. She forgives Sutter for terrible, terrible stuff and depends on him like a drug. I hated her character. She's also supposed to awkward? Uh Shailene Woodley is a very pretty girl casting people. The climax had a good shock factor but its aftermath left me frustrated. To add to that, the ending left me sitting in my seat, wondering why I even decided to watch the movie in the first place.
The only good thing about this film was the performances. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley did great jobs as their respective characters. Kyle Chandler, who I never even knew was in the film, gave a surprisingly emotional and understated performance as well. After I watched the film, I was very confused of all the acclaim it received. I was actually thinking about watching it again to see if I missed something, but then I figured it would be a waste of my time because if I have to watch a movie more than once to analyze its themes and hidden messages, then it has not done it's purpose as a film. I did like the portrayal by the main characters of feeling like you are losing time and trying to live every moment, but this seemed to determine all of their decisions. Not too sure if I would recommend The Spectacular Now.
ALL IN ALL: The Spectacular Now is a disappointing film with unlikable characters and a weak story that overshadows the otherwise well done performances.
Rated R, 95 minutes