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The Spectacular Now is a 2013 American coming-of-age romantic comedy-drama film directed by James Ponsoldt, written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber and starring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. Based on the 2008 novel of the same name by Tim Tharp, the film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it garnered critical acclaim. It was released in the United States on August 2, 2013, and grossed $6 million worldwide.

The Spectacular Now
The Spectacular Now film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames Ponsoldt
Produced by
  • Tom McNulty
  • Shawn Levy
  • Michelle Krumm
  • Andrew Lauren
Screenplay by
Based onThe Spectacular Now
by Tim Tharp
Starring
Music byRob Simonsen
CinematographyJess Hall
Edited byDarrin Navarro
Production
company
Distributed byA24[1]
Release date
  • January 18, 2013 (2013-01-18) (Sundance)
  • August 2, 2013 (2013-08-02) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$2.5 million[3]
Box office$6.9 million[3]

Contents

PlotEdit

Sutter Keely is a charming and popular 18-year-old who has spent his senior year of high school partying and drinking alcohol. When his girlfriend Cassidy Roy breaks up with him, Sutter goes home and writes a college application supplement, in which he says that his biggest hardship in life has been getting dumped by her. He goes out and gets drunk.

He is woken up on a front lawn by Aimee Finecky, a girl in his year whose name he does not know. Aimee is in the middle of her mother's paper route, and Sutter joins her to track down his car. The next day, he asks her to tutor him in geometry. He learns that she is smart, funny and into sci-fi and comics. Sutter goes home and deletes the supplement he wrote about his life's biggest hardship. He takes Aimee to a party the next day, and they go for a walk and drink. Aimee confesses she has never been drunk before, never had a boyfriend and does not think she can go to college because she has to take care of her mother. Sutter tells her she is not responsible for her mother before complimenting and kissing her.

The next morning, Sutter wakes up hungover and realizes that he asked Aimee to prom at the party. He avoids Aimee during school and goes to Cassidy's house that night. They get drunk in her room and reminisce, but Cassidy tells him they have no future together and asks him to leave. After her friend warns him not to hurt her, Sutter takes Aimee to dinner at his sister Holly's house, where Aimee talks frankly about the death of her father from an opiate overdose and her dreams of a perfect marriage. Sutter and Aimee's relationship grows more serious and they eventually have sex. Afterward, Sutter confesses that his mother kicked his father out when he was a child and has forbidden him from seeing him, and the pair makes a pact to stand up to their mothers.

On prom night, Sutter gifts Aimee a flask so they can drink together. After the dance, Aimee tells him that she is going to college in Philadelphia near her sister, who can help her find an apartment and a job. She asks Sutter to come with her and go to junior college, and he hesitantly agrees. Sutter gets his father's phone number from Holly and arranges to meet up to attend a baseball game, bringing Aimee with him. His father forgets about their plans and instead takes them to a local bar, ditching them when he picks up a woman. He asks them to get the tab and meet him back at his motel, but when he fails to arrive, they find him back in the bar drinking with his friends. Sutter and Aimee leave.

Aimee attempts to comfort Sutter and says she loves him, but Sutter, angry and drunk, snaps at her. After almost causing an accident, he tells her he is bad for her and forces her out of the car. Aimee, crying and not paying attention to the road, is clipped by a passing car. Aimee's arm is broken but she immediately forgives Sutter for the incident. At graduation, Sutter opens up his diploma and finds it blank, indicating that he failed his senior year. After the ceremony, Sutter refuses to drink with Aimee and talks to Cassidy, who tells Sutter that she is moving to California with her boyfriend. Later, Sutter's boss tells him he will be fired if he keeps working drunk. Unable to guarantee his sobriety, Sutter quits.

Sutter drives past Aimee, who is waiting for him by the bus to Philadelphia, leaving her heartbroken. He gets drunk at a bar, drives home and totals his mailbox. After an argument with his mother, Sutter reassesses his life and completes the personal statement for his college application, despite having missed the submission deadline. He confesses that his biggest hardship is himself and his insistence to only live in the moment. He drives to Philadelphia and finds Aimee as she is leaving class. They make eye contact, and Aimee suppresses a smile.

CastEdit

ProductionEdit

Principal photography commenced in Athens, Georgia, in July 2012 and wrapped a month later.[4] While the novel is set in Oklahoma, director James Ponsoldt preferred to shoot in his hometown;[4] he explained:

The script didn't identify where it was set – the setting just wasn't a big city. It felt vaguely suburban – or kind of like a college town. It seemed to me that the script had a sense of place in the way that Breaking Away did. Athens was such an obvious candidate as a setting to shoot the film in – and it was really the only place I wanted to make the film. Filming in Athens was incredibly meaningful to me. We shot in the streets and houses of my childhood![5]

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

The Spectacular Now opened in limited release in North America on August 2, 2013 in four theaters and grossed $197,415 with an average of $49,354 per theater and ranking #30 at the box office. The film's wide release was in 770 theaters and it ended up earning $6.9 million domestically and an additional $63,980 elsewhere for a total of $6.9 million, against its $2.5 million budget.[3]

Critical responseEdit

The Spectacular Now was warmly received at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 92% based on 160 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Spectacular Now is an adroit, sensitive film that avoids typical coming-of-age story trappings."[6] On Metacritic the film has a score of 82 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[7]

Roger Ebert, in one of the last reviews of his life, awarded the film a full four stars, stating in his review:

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? They aren't crippled by irony. They aren't speeded up into cartoons. Their sex lives aren't insulted by scenes that treat them cheaply [...] What an affecting film this is. It respects its characters and doesn't use them for its own shabby purposes. How deeply we care about them. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are so there. Being young is a solemn business when you really care about someone. Teller has a touch of John Cusack in his Say Anything period. Woodley is beautiful in a real person sort of way, studying him with concern, and then that warm smile. We have gone through senior year with these two. We have known them. We have been them.[8]

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times also gave the film four stars out of four, describing it as "the best American movie of the year so far". He summarized his review by adding: "The Spectacular Now will bring you back to that time in your life when you were trying to soak in every moment, because everyone told you there's nothing better than your last year in high school."[9] In The Hollywood Reporter, critic Todd McCarthy called the film "a sincere, refreshingly unaffected look at teenagers and their attitudes about the future... Ordinary in some ways and extraordinary in others, The Spectacular Now benefits from an exceptional feel for its main characters on the parts of the director and lead actors."[10]

Dana Stevens of Slate also praised both the leads, commenting that "Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley have such a disarmingly direct and spontaneous connection as actors that Sutter and Aimee almost immediately come to seem like a couple you've known (or been part of) at some point in your life... The Spectacular Now captures the beauty and scariness and lacerating intensity of first love".[11] Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman described it as "one of the rare truly soulful and authentic teen movies." He compared it favorably to Say Anything... and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, saying "like them, it's a movie about the experience of being caught on the cusp and truly not knowing which way you'll land."[12]

In Variety, critic Rob Nelson wrote: "The scars and blemishes on the faces of the high-school lovers in The Spectacular Now are beautifully emblematic of director James Ponsoldt's bid to bring the American teen movie back to some semblance of reality, a bid that pays off spectacularly indeed."[13] Cinema Blend called it "the rare Sundance coming-of-age story that feels like it matters",[14] adding: "The Spectacular Now is an instant MVP of the first half of the festival, with potential breakout hit written all over it... you'll be hearing a lot about this one down the road, and it's got the goods to live up to the hype." Phoebe Reilly of Spin called the film "the next great teen movie" and "truly remarkable". She acclaimed Teller and Woodley for their "absurdly natural performances", with Sutter "uniquely irresistible" and Aimee "a perfect repertoire of nervous giggles and awkward mannerisms."[15]

AccoladesEdit

At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, The Spectacular Now received the Special Jury Award for Acting.[16]

List of awards and nominations
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients and nominees Result
Alliance of Women Film Journalists[17] December 16, 2013 Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Nominated
Best Breakthrough Performance Shailene Woodley Nominated
Best Depiction of Nudity, Sexuality or Seduction Award Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller Nominated
Gotham Awards[18] December 2, 2013 Best Actress Shailene Woodley Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards[19] March 1, 2014 Best Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Nominated
Best Female Lead Shailene Woodley Nominated
National Board of Review[20] December 4, 2013 Top Ten Independent Films The Spectacular Now Won
San Diego Film Critics Society[21] December 11, 2013 Best Supporting Actress Shailene Woodley Won
San Francisco Film Critics Circle[22] December 15, 2013 Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Nominated
Seattle International Film Festival[23] June 9, 2013 Youth Jury Award for Best FutureWave Feature The Spectacular Now Won
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association[24] December 16, 2013 Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Nominated
Sundance Film Festival January 26, 2013 Special Jury Award for Acting Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley Won
Grand Jury Prize: U.S. Dramatic James Ponsoldt Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association[25] December 9, 2013 Best Adapted Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber Nominated

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Fleming, Mike (January 21, 2013). "Sundance: A24 Buys 'The Spectacular Now'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  2. ^ http://www.classification.gov.au/Pages/View.aspx?sid=4uDiZnGZWyc3tHYO0%252fKg0g%253d%253d&ncdctx=HYxIXiO2OpOiWBigI6EOf61HGEfjNP11megvqN9w1EYW1issSuqNexOs5SljjnE8scURO7bmfpScHgp1PojiNw%253d%253d
  3. ^ a b c "The Spectacular Now (2013)". The Numbers. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Gallant, Andre (June 28, 2012). "New film preps to shoot in Athens". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  5. ^ Wardell, Gabe (January 31, 2013). "Catching up with Georgia filmmaker James Ponsoldt, whose latest feature just conquered Sundance". Creative Loafing. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  6. ^ "The Spectacular Now Rotten Tomatoes".
  7. ^ "The Spectacular Now - Metacritic".
  8. ^ Roger Ebert (August 2, 2013). "The Spectacular Now". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  9. ^ "The Spectacular Now - Richard Roeper review".
  10. ^ McCarthy, Todd (January 20, 2013). "The Spectacular Now: Sundance Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  11. ^ "The Spectacular Now - Slate review".
  12. ^ "The Spectacular Now - EW review".
  13. ^ Nelson, Rob (January 19, 2013). "Review: "The Spectacular Now"". Variety. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  14. ^ Rich, Katey (January 19, 2013). "The Spectacular Now: The Rare Sundance Coming-Of-Age Story That Feels Like It Matters". Cinema Blend. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  15. ^ Reilly, Phoebe (January 20, 2013). "The Next Great Teen Movie Premieres at Sundance: 'The Spectacular Now'". Spin. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  16. ^ "2013 Sundance Film Festival Announces Feature Film Awards". Sundance.org. January 26, 2013. Archived from the original on January 30, 2013. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  17. ^ "2013 EDA Award Nominees". Alliance of Women Film Journalists. December 12, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  18. ^ Pond, Steve (October 24, 2013). "'12 Years a Slave' Leads Gotham Awards Nominations". The Wrap. Retrieved December 1, 2013.
  19. ^ Kilday, Gregg (November 26, 2013). "'12 Years a Slave,' 'Nebraska' Dominate Spirit Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 1, 2013.
  20. ^ "NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW ANNOUNCES 2013 AWARD WINNERS". The National Board of Review. December 4, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  21. ^ Posner, Jay (December 11, 2013). "SD Film Critics name best of 2013". U-T San Diego. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  22. ^ Stone, Sasha (December 13, 2013). "San Francisco Film Critics Nominations". Awards Daily. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  23. ^ Marx, Jessica (June 9, 2013). "SIFF ANNOUNCES 2013 COMPETITION & GOLDEN SPACE NEEDLE AUDIENCE AWARDS". Seattle International Film Festival. Archived from the original on March 17, 2014. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  24. ^ Venhaus, Lynn (December 9, 2013). "St. Louis Film Critics choose their award nominees". Belleville News-Democrat. Archived from the original on December 13, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  25. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (December 8, 2013). "'12 Years a Slave' and 'Her' lead the way with Washington D.C. critics nominations". HitFix. Retrieved December 8, 2013.

External linksEdit