The Spectacular Now (2013)

Being born in 1995 and growing up in the 2000’s, I’ve missed a lot of great movies. Not only have I missed great ones, but I’ve missed relatable ones too. I’ve seen just about every John Hughes movie and I’ve scoured for more coming of age movies, but they are all unrelatable for me. I didn’t grow up in the 80’s (unfortunately) and the high school lifestyle that’s depicted in so many films is completely opposite of what it is actually like. My high school experience hasn’t been bad, but my path to graduation has been littered with drama, hardships and a struggle to know what I really want to do with my life. All of those truths about high school are rarely shown in a movie. Or, so I thought.

The Spectacular Now IS the movie that I have been waiting for. Excellently written by Michael H. Webber & Scott Neustadter (500 Days of Summer) and superbly directed by James Ponsoldt (Smashed), The Spectacular Now follows the life of Sutter Keely (Miles Teller), a high school senior who’s the life of each and every party. He’s got the looks, he’s got the personality and he’s got the girl. He’s not a jock, but he’s admired by all and is someone to look up to. All is well for Sutter, until his girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson) breaks up with him. Sutter, confused and alone for once, resorts to continuing his addiction to alcohol and blacks out in someones yard after leaving his car god-knows-where.

In the morning, he’s awakened by Aimee Finicky (Shailene Woodley), a shy senior who doubts that Sutter would even recognize her. Quickly, Sutter’s charm and Aimee’s lack of experience with boys and down to earth personality bring the two together. We see them flirt, we see them grow as characters, but we also see them open up to one another and show their true colors. We discover, in a very touching and emotional scene, that Aimee’s father has died and that her mother is almost entirely dependent on her. We also learn that Sutter’s father (Kyle Chandler) left his family and is being kept from him by his mother (Jennifer Leigh). This scene is just one of the many reasons why this film is so spectacular.

Sutter and Aimee, while working on their relationship, also challenge each other to work on their relationships with their parents. Aimee has a bright future ahead of her, but her mother wants her to stay home. Sutter, like myself, isn’t sure of what he wants to do with his life or why he should have to bother with growing up. While Sutter may be the guy everyone looks up to, he doesn’t have anyone to look up to. He doesn’t know his father and he holds on to memories of the good times they had when he was a child. Sutter also realizes, that he may not be so good for Aimee. He feels as if he’s holding her back and that she deserves better. It’s uncanny how many people I know that have felt exactly like this.

The rest of the film follows Sutter’s and Aimee’s relationship through its highs and lows. We get outstanding performances from Teller and Woodley, as well as a great performance from Kyle Chandler. However, as great as the writing, directing and acting is, this movie prevails because it’s one that doesn’t fall into the classic high school routines. We get raw emotion and language that are ever-present in the lives of teenagers. The interactions, the dialog and the withheld secrets all ring true for anyone in high school and will immediately draw them in. Like with (500) Days of Summer, we get an unconventional love story that hits all the right notes as the characters live incredibly true lives.

For me, this has been one of the best films I’ve seen all year. That may be because I am a high schooler and I have something that I can relate to, but I think that’s okay. This isn’t a film for adults. We get enough romances and romantic comedies with adults every year. Rarely do we get a film for high schoolers and teenagers. I think it’s incredibly important that we do because it gives us something to talk about and it has an effect on us. We aren’t married with kids. We aren’t struggling with paying rent and working terrible jobs. We are kids. Kids who don’t know what in the world is going on in our lives. Kids who don’t know a life outside of where we are. Kids who are afraid to move on and live in a world that doesn’t immediately include our family and friends. We may not be adults, but we still struggle and we still have stories that are waiting to be told. At the end of the day, The Spectacular Now is a film that every high schooler should see because it gives us something that we can relate to, but it also lets us know that we aren’t alone in the struggles of everyday life. Shailene Woodley said it best, “I’d like to think that there is more to a person than just one thing”. If we can all realize that, we can learn to help one another like Sutter and Aimee do.

If for some odd reason you still aren’t convinced to go see this movie, I urge you to continue reading for my Top Ten Thoughts on The Spectacular Now!

Like (500) Days of Summer, The Spectacular Now provides a raw and realistic look into love and humans.

Like (500) Days of Summer, The Spectacular Now provides a raw and realistic look into love and humans.

What I Enjoyed

What I Also Enjoyed

This is one of the more realistic depictions of high school life.

This is an important movie that everyone in high school should see.

Miles Teller is absolutely phenomenal and is incredibly relatable.

Even the supporting cast in this film feels like a group of people that you’ve met and conversed with.

Shailene Woodley plays her character perfectly and will evoke many emotions.

Having an R rating allows for more of the realistic language and actions of high school students.

The thing is, everyone in high school knows a Sutter and an Aimee.

Not having separated parents, I don’t know what it’s like for Sutter, yet I feel his pain and somehow want to help him.

That fear of the future of life after school is something in the back of every teenagers head.

That feeling of wanting to help someone before helping yourself is too familiar and will touch everyone who watches this.

This script is wonderful. The dialog and scenes play out beautifully.

This is a drama filled with realistic events and some comedy. Just like High School.

Kyle Chandler turns in another brilliant, yet different performance.

The depiction of that first “love” you have with someone is very true and is very interesting to watch from the outside.

In the short time you spend with the characters, you get very attached to them and their actions.

These Writers and Director worked incredibly hard on making this a movie for teenagers and they succeed in every way.

Like (500) Days of Summer, this is a very unconventional, real love story.

The ending to this film almost had me in tears. It’s a wonderful “up to you” kind of end.

The Spectacular now works on just about every level and will evoke every emotion you have pent up inside of you.

The Spectacular Now combines superb writing and directing with two of the best performances this year, to create a film that just about everyone can relate to.


I hope my review is more than enough for you to realize that this is a rare film that every teeanger needs to see. I can’t praise it enough, but I can tell you that it will affect each and every person who watches it. There’s a reason that Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley won at the Sundance Film Festival. The Spectacular Now is real, it’s raw and is an accumulation of some of the best acting, writing and directing I’ve seen all year. Please go see this film. You won’t be disappointed.

The Spectacular Now Trailer

5 STARS!!!

5 / 5 stars     

9 thoughts on “The Spectacular Now (2013)

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