Written by / 8/21/2013 / No comments / , , , , , , ,

THE SPECTACULAR NOW

year: 2013 cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Kyle Chandler rating: ***1/2
A cross between John Cusack’s pontificating good guy in SAY ANYTHING and Chris Penn’s boozing jock in THE WILD LIFE, a refreshingly average/realistic looking Miles Teller (who was Penn's character in the FOOTLOOSE remake) plays Sutter, the most popular kid in high school and a known campus party animal. It’s surprising to several people when he hooks up with smart girl Aimee, played by THE DESCENDANTS actress Shailene Woodley, and their romance blossoms.

The nice thing about SPECTACULAR NOW is it’s not that spectacular, and never tries to be. In several scenes, awkward moments play out without intrusive cuts... like the couple’s first sexual experience or anytime Sutter's confidence trumps those around him... making the film seem more realistic than catered to mainstream audiences.

Although Miles Teller plays the role a bit too grownup, often coming across more like a used car salesman than high schooler, and his routine drinking habit would better fit a thirty-five year old construction worker, he makes the part work, balancing vulnerability and wild card cockiness around ordinary people with their lives mapped out. Meanwhile, an intentionally plain looking Woodley remains a solid foundation, and their scenes together are never sappy or pretentious.

The third act – as Sutter meets his estranged father – could have been the point where melodrama replaces the story’s casual pace, but thankfully even the most intense moments remain on an even-keel that, like the main character’s personality, will keep you involved from start to finish.

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