Movie review: The Spectacular Now

But then a road trip really crystalized the narrative for me, making what has come before much more significant.

Last Friday, the Daughter was still with the neighbor, the Wife and I were back in Albany, and it’s HOT out. Let’s go to the movies at the Spectrum in Albany to see the 1 pm showing of The Spectacular Now. We’d recently seen the previews, and I knew it had reviewed well. It was directed by James Ponsoldt, and written by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, based on some young adult novel by Tim Tharp I had never heard of.

Sutter (Miles Teller) and Cassidy (Brie Larson) are that popular couple in high school, a fun, hard-partying duo. She breaks up with him, though, for reasons he doesn’t initially understand. He crashes into the orbit of Aimee (Shailene Woodley), a nice girl, who he befriends, somewhat out of pity, and ends up in a rebound romance with her.

Sutter believes in the spectacular now, that growing up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. His mom won’t even tell him where his dad is, and he thinks that geometry stuff that Aimee is trying to tutor him in is useless anyway. Yet he has an interesting streak of honesty and integrity that disarms people around him.

Telling more would probably give away too much. The coming of age movie went along, interesting and pleasant enough. But then a road trip really crystalized the narrative for me, making what has come before much more significant.

The performances are great. Miles Teller I had never heard of, but Shailene Woodley was wonderful in The Descendants. Also strong were Jennifer Jason Leigh as Sutter’s mother (a long way from Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Kyle Chandler. Halfway through, I didn’t think the movie was spectacular, but by the end, I thought it was at least very good.