Current and Timeless; ‘The Spectacular Now’ Review

Director: James Ponsoldtthe-spectacular-now02

Writers:  Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber

Budget: $2.5 million dollars

Running Time: 95 minutes

Starring: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bob Odenkirk, Kyle Chandler

The Spectacular Now is the best movie I’ve seen this week. And saying that in comparison to Prisoners last Saturday followed by Fruitvale Station on Wednesday as a critic I think really means something. I only decided to see it 48 hours ago, brother Sam raved about it and I checked the showtimes for a movie that premiered in July (á la Fruitvale) and low and behold it was showing at a theatre that is due to close by the end of the year. I asked a lot of people to go see this movie with me (as I have with everyone all week) and preferably ones that wouldn’t ruin the movie by talking, but no dice. I am in the middle of one of the best cinematic streaks I’ve experienced (completely opposite to the rough one I had in April) and I’m experiencing it alone. But I must say it is great running to theatre, not waiting on anyone or worrying about them bugging you, or you annoying them, its not awkward but a pleasant experience. But the one disadvantage to that scheme is that you have no one to experience the film with. Not someone to agree or disagree with, or talk to about it afterwards, you can only sit around and tell someone how great this is and that they’re missing it, and hope that they listen enough to take that opportunity to go see the best film I’ve seen all year.

Maybe its because I’m getting older and my taste is maturing but two things are changing for me in the realm of movies right now; I’m more excited for the fall prestige films than the summer blockbusters, and as I see more and more films I find less the point at which your staring at the screen for awhile and you forget that your watching a movie. You don’t think about the technical stuff, the cinematography, the music or overall direction, the performances don’t get in the way and you don’t think to yourself how he or she [the actor] is doing. In that moment you are completely absorbed in the now. These spectacular moments are for me what filmmaking should strive for and is all about. And it is completely present in this film.

Like Miles Teller pictured above you’re most likely sitting, pretending to work right now.

I always have reservations going in, anyone who knows me knows about my constant over thinking and sometimes overbearingly specific expectations. I thought that going in that I was too old for this story about two young lovers graduating high school. I’ve never had a girlfriend, I can’t relate. Its past that moment for me I thought. And the set up to that story very much is, as I am in fact older than that and have graduated high school. But in the casting of older experienced actors: Shailene Woodley (21) and Miles Teller (26), the writers are able to tell a mature story that has gravitas and a weight attached to it. I found myself able to relate to the main character a whole lot, and I was completely surprised and shocked at one point to realize just how emotionally entangled I was. It grabbed me and held on for just the right amount of time, and when it let go the movie was over.

[If your wondering or really even care to know, I will add as a sidenote to this review that everyone is well cast; Bob Odenkirk as the mens store manager and boss to the protagonist (a subtle metaphor) and Kyle Chandler as a runaway father to Teller both perform in small but crucial supporting roles for this coming of age drama. Jennifer Jason Leigh, who after seeing her name in the credits of so many movies I’ve watched but never bothered to look up I’m realizing now was the mother in the film. I’ll give her her due, she’s always a character and never an actor.]

The writers behind this movie have taken everything that was terrible or badly executed from their previous effort and moved it 500 Days of Summer away, in the right direction- under James Pondsolt. They decide not to tell you a story but show you one instead. And it is very Spectacular. The best Romantic drama I have ever seen.

Rating: +3/ A+

-3           -2           -1           0           +1           +2           +3


  • To all of those who couldn’t see this movie with me for their own (and completely legitimate) reasons I hope you either see this movie and regret it for the rest of your life, or did something good with the time they had
  • There was a guy in the theatre laughing at every single minor joke or lighthearted comment on screen which wound up being ever 3 or so minutes, I was going to say something, but I then realized he had down syndrome
  • I would have been more distracted with the originally considered lead roles Saoirse (pronounced Sear-sha) Ronan and Nicolas Hoult. They’re both narrow faced and I don’t think would have worked as well
  • I think the movie would sell better if it were advertised as ‘from the writing team that brought you The Pink Panther 2’
  • A similar version of this movie was made 23 years ago and it was called ‘Say Anything’ (the one with the boom box outside the window) it was watchable but it wasn’t nearly as good as this
  • Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley can next be seen together in ‘Divergent’ on March 21st, 2014
  • This is the perfect date movie; I hate comparisons but for readers sake its Miles ahead Teller than ‘The Notebook’

A young looking John Cusack & Ione Skye bear similar resemblance to Miles Teller & Shailene Woodley having made their mark on the genre with the 1989 film Say Anything...A young looking John Cusack & Ione Skye bear similar resemblance to Miles Teller & Shailene Woodley having made their mark on the genre with the 1989 film Say Anything…


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