The Spectacular Now

WRITTEN BY: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
DIRECTED BY: James Ponsoldt
STARRING: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Kyle Chandler, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh
RATING: 2.5 stars

There have been some good coming of age stories in recent years, most of which have just enough realism to them that they are relatable to audiences. The Spectacular Now, which has been adapted from Tim Tharp's novel, is another example of such a film. But, while the cast is strong and the subject matter is interesting, The Spectacular Now ultimately lacks the charm of similar films like The Perks of Being A Wallflower.

Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) is a high school senior who likes to live in the now rather than think about the future. He proclaims himself the life of the party but starts to lose his way when his girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson) breaks up with him. He strikes a surprising friendship with smart and innocent Aimee Fineky (Shailene Woodley) and the pair soon start a romantic relationship. Through Aimee, Sutter starts to re-examine his life and face his personal issues with his estranged father (Kyle Chandler) and his over-protective mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Meanwhile, he gives Aimee the courage to stand up to her over-dependent mother (Whitney Goin).

It seems like a lot of the film was improvised and the leads are very good at creating awkward dialogue. It made moments feel more realistic and endearing. Sutter is not really likeable and is full of self-loathing too, but he is also complex, and Teller does a good job of straddling different aspects of Sutter's personality. Woodley is also convincing as the sweet girl with big dreams.

While The Spectacular Now has some good moments, there are better coming of age films.