Well, this review has been a long time coming; it could almost be considered a retro review. The Spectacular Now originally came out in August 2013 on a limited run (only four theatres showed the film) but after that initial viewing the number of theatres was upped dramatically for a nationwide release. In America. I remember seeing the trailer for The Spectacular Now on YouTube when it first came out and I was intrigued, yet I could not find a movie theatre or a DVD copy when it was released in early 2014. Yet due to the wonders of the Internet, I finally found a copy so here is my review of The Spectacular Now.
The Spectacular Now is about a high school student named Sutter Keely (played by Miles Teller) who after being dumped by his girlfriend goes on a apocalyptic style alcohol-binge only to be woken up the next day by Amiee Finecky (played by Shailene Woodley) on a neighbour’s lawn. After this meeting the two strike up a friendship which soon turns into a relationship, where they help each other overcome obstacles in their lives.
Let me say this right off the bat; I had high expectations going into this film. Maybe it was the two years of waiting to finally see it; maybe it was that the writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber were responsible for the script of (500) Days of Summer, one of mine and many other people favourite romantic comedies of all time. Whatever the multitude of reasons, my expectations were high. And wow, were they met.
The Spectacular Now is not a “dumb, mindless action movie”, this is a story/dialogue focussed film, in the vein of Quentin Tarantino (when he’s doing the colourful dialogue and not coating everything with blood). The dialogue between our two leads feels very fluid and natural, to the point where many people have speculated that most of the script was ab libbed by Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. I tried to find evidence for either but I couldn’t find anything concrete, but if you do know then please comment below. The film feels as if you are just watching two friends having a natural conversation, which is still a problem some mainstream Hollywood films can’t recreate.
The love making scene in the film (lauded by Woodley herself for being her favourite scene in the film) has been touted as the most “realistic” sex scene in film history. It’s awkward, both for our leads and us, the viewers but also adorably cute, something which Blue Is The Warmest Colour, another contender for 2013’s most realistic sex scene failed at, to the point where it became a bit crass.
The casting of Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley is superb, as two teenagers coming from broken families and finding solace within each other. While Miles Teller at the time of filming had been known for the “Comedy Character” (see Footloose, 21 and Over and Project X, and then That Awkward Moment afterwards) its here for me that we finally get to see a broad range of acting ability, with the final twenty minutes seeing an outpouring of emotion that is brilliantly contrasting with his earlier carefree attitude. Shailene Woodley as well is performing in what I consider to be one of her best roles, duly earning the awards that she collected for this film. The rest of the cast are good in their roles, with special mention going to Andre Royo and Saul Goodman…oh I mean Bob Odenkirk as Andrew’s teacher and boss respectively, who give lectures to our main character about growing up without turning into mawkish clichéd conversations.
In conclusion, The Spectacular Now was one of the best romantic comedies of recent history, even if we are a couple of years late to the party. Go watch in now on Netflix, or if you are able to, get a DVD copy.
Score: 9/10, Deserved all the praise it got from Sundance.