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MikePA's Movie Reviews (137)

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The Spectacular Now 
Review: The Spectacular Now
3.5/4 stars

One year - three excellent coming-of-age films, all of which currently stand in my Top 10 Best of 2013 list. Being that I'm a teenager in high school (currently a senior... that college stress is a comin'), I always find these types of films to be the most relatable and, when done passionately, the most moving. There's just something about coming-of-age stories that touch my heart - the characters, the stories they live through, the difficulties they face, and their journey in overcoming that, hence "come of age." From films like The Goonies and E.T. to most recent ones like The Way Way Back and the outstanding Perks of Being a Wallflower, well-crafted coming-of-age stories have always been the ones that stick with me emotionally.

The Spectacular Now tells the story of Sutter (Miles Teller), a high school senior who loves living in "the now." He's the party animal who rather frequently gets wasted and has fun with his ladies. He slacks on his school work and has very little thoughts on his future, but he has a steady job that keeps him at a good level. After a night of partying, he wakes him to Aimee (Shailene Woodley), who he immediately forms a connection with. Aimee's mindset and mannerisms as a "good girl" kind of strikes a line of confusion on Sutter, but it's also something he admires about her. They form a lovely relationship, but like all relationships, the more intimate they get, the easier problems come about - especially when Sutter's father (Kyle Chandler) comes into play.

The film opens with Sutter writing his college application essay. This is good because it tells you write from the get-go what he's like as a person. Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (writers of 500 Days of Summer) take the time to let you know who Sutter is. What he does, why, and what effects it has on him. It's good character development leading up to his relationship with Aimee, and his eventual father-struggles. This makes the character all the more engaging and, in the end, allows for some great resonating emotion.

The film offers plenty of cute and lighthearted moments, the majority of which come from Sutter and Aimee's early relationship stages. What's good is that the film gets darker as their relationship gets more and more close, personal, and intimate, painting an accurate depiction of how modern day, teenaged relationships truly are. It's amazing that the script treats these characters with such realism. They act, live and breathe like real teenagers, not some overwritten, conventional assholes. They're so well performed by two incredibly gifted actors, Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. Teller packs his character with so much color and vivid clarity, while Woodley does an amazing job at being calm, cool, and subtle. Wonderful work by the two of them.

The Spectacular Now isn't the most moving or entertaining of this year's best coming-of-age stories, Mud and The Way Way Back hold those positions. But this is still filmmaking at its most heartfelt.

3.5/4


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