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The Spectacular Now: To know Sutter Keely is to love him. Aimme Finnicky is about to know Sutter Keely

August 21, 2013

The Spectacular Now

The majority of 2013’s cinematic press has been geared towards the massive blockbusters hitting the screen each week. These bombastic marvels of CGI and cookie cutter themes have overshadowed a fantastic crop of intelligent indies. Mud, Before Midnight, The Way, Way Back and The Spectacular Now provide wonderful insights into relationships, growing up, divorce and fatherhood. The best parts of these films are that they are intelligent and true. You appreciate the story, like the characters and most importantly want to spend more time with them.

The late great Roger Ebert opened up his Spectactular Now review with this quote:

Here is a lovely film about two high school seniors who look, speak and feel like real 18-year-old middle-American human beings. Do you have any idea how rare that is?

The Spectacular Now is an incredibly rare film.  Ebert reinforced the rarity of memorable characters by comparing Miles Teller’s character Sutter Keely to Say Anything’s Lloyd Dobler. They are both aimless, capable and fall for women who love and care for them. The tagline which I shamelessly reworked for the headline is true for both characters.

The Spectacular Now revolves around the oft buzzed Sutter Keely and his relationship with the sweet Aimee Finnicky  (Shailene Woodley). The two meet cute and that is where the genre tropes end. Both come from single parent homes where they either have too much or too little responsibility. Aimee realizes she needs to work hard to get into college whereas Sutter isn’t pushed to do anything so he coasts on his personality. Together, they navigate growing up, moving on and dealing with the past. They support each other and develop a familiarity you may have experienced growing up. Ebert finished one of his last reviews with this quote:

We have gone through senior year with these two. We have known them. We have been them.

Director James Ponsoldt infuses his films with genuine honesty that strays away from easy. His films Smashed and The Spectacular Now are serious without being depressing. He respects first love and sobriety in ways many writers/directors do not. Also, writer Marc Webber (500 Days of Summer) does a fine job adapting the book written by Tim Tharp. Sutter Keely loves to talk but the script and direction infuse his chatter with quiet moments and observations. The movie never feels rushed and the relationship feels organic. You really like all of the characters and that is a testament to Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley and Brie Larson. All of them could have fallen into drunk, mousy and evil ex-girlfriend stereotypes but instead are memorable and familiar.

Watch Spectacular Now. Appreciate a carefully crafted movie that features rare lovely characters. Keep your eye out for James Ponsoldt. Hope Woodley knocks Divergent out of the park. Forgive Mile Teller for 21 & Over.

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