Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller shine in the coming of age, romantic, teen drama, The Spectacular Now. This film has everything you would expect from a high school love story, in which the popular party boy falls for the shy, nerdy girl. Its two protagonists, Woodley and Teller are believable, loveable, and endearing. I just wish they had been given something new to do, rather than the same story we’ve heard a million times, right down to the voice-over college admissions essay.

The Players:

  • Director: James Ponsoldt
  • Screenwriters: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, based on the novel by Tim Tharp
  • Cinematographer: Jess Hall
  • Starring: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kyle Chandler

Synopsis:

Sutter Keely gets dumped by his longtime girlfriend and takes interest in Aimee Finicky, not someone from his crowd of popular friends. Focused only on having a good time and living in the present, Sutter’s lack of concern for his future has led him to become  a self-destructive alcoholic. Aimee, on the other hand, has plenty of plans for her future but is being stifled by her present. As they get to know and learn from each other, they find themselves pushed outside of their comfort zones and ushered into adulthood.

The Good:

This film certainly scratches any itch you might have for a teen drama. It has strong characters, good performances, a love story, and some truly touching moments. I was also excited to see Andre Royo (better known as “Bubbles” from HBO’s The Wire) in a role as a teacher and mentor to Sutter.

The Bad:

I was hoping that this film would take this formulaic and familiar genre and make it new somehow. It has strong characters, good actors, and good writing, but seemingly no desire to push outside the boundaries of the expected. Why tell a story that someone else has already told if you’re not going to take it in a new direction?

Overall:

I was entertained by this movie because I have a soft spot for teen romances. I enjoyed the two main characters, who are convincing, earnest, and natural in their roles.  But I left wishing that their story had been a little less predictable.

Rating: 6/10