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The Spectacular Now

  R HD Closed Captioning

James Ponsoldt

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Plot Summary

With sly humor and an intensity of feeling, THE SPECTACULAR NOW creates a vivid, three-dimensional portrait of youth confronting the funny, thrilling and perilous business of modern love and adulthood. This is the tale of Sutter Keely (Miles Teller), a high school senior and effortless charmer, and of how he unexpectedly falls in love with "the good girl" Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley). What starts as an unlikely romance, becomes a sharp-eyed, straight-up snapshot of the heady confusion and haunting passion of youth – one that doesn’t look for tidy truths. The film was written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber ((500) DAYS OF SUMMER) and is based on the book, The Spectacular Now, by Tim Tharp. The film also features wonderful supporting turns from Brie Larson, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Bob Odenkirk.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 148
  • Fresh: 137
  • Rotten: 11
  • Average Rating: 7.8/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: A cleareyed, disarmingly tender teenage romance that bears comparison with the best of its genre, both old ("Say Anything") and new ("The Perks of Being a Wallflower"). – Ty Burr, Boston Globe, Aug 15, 2013

Fresh: The movie captures the raw excitement and heartbreak of adolescence so completely that it manages to replace a seen-it-all jaded heart with the butterflies that accompany fresh experiences. – Stephanie Merry, Washington Post, Aug 8, 2013

Fresh: In The Spectacular Now, the high school seniors look and talk like actual high school seniors. – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times, Aug 12, 2013

Fresh: [A] nuanced and unsentimental coming-of-age film. – Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader, Aug 23, 2013

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews


Of all the big modern teen coming-of-age films I've seen in recent years, I don't think I've truly ever come across a movie as emotionally intense and gratifyingly honest as "The Spectacular Now." Based on the book of the same name by Tim Tharp and directed by James Ponsoldt, it's a rare breed of adolescent drama that not only transcends any and all clichés associated with most teen flicks, but also packs a hefty emotional punch. But more than anything, it's a film that feels incredibly real from start to finish, with no dramatic sugarcoating or sentimental schmaltz to be found in any single scene. Rather than simply stick by a safe, shopworn formula, the story moves by the beat of its own unpredictable drum (leaving us guessing which direction it'll take in the process). Add in one of the most talented young casts ever assembled for any recent teen romance and what you get is one of the best movies of the entire year - hands down. It's the tale of Sutter Keely (Miles Teller), an effortless charmer and 18-year-old alcoholic with no actual ambition. He's the life of the party and lives in the moment, even if he isn't always considerate of others. After getting dumped by his longtime popular girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson), Sutter proceeds to drink his sorrows away until he's found passed out on a stranger's lawn the next day by "good girl" Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley). Aimee is everything Sutter is not: shy, modest, and a grade-A student. The two quickly become best friends, and then much more than that. But as their promising relationship progresses, so does everything around them, and soon, they'll both have to decide which is more important: living for the future, or in the now. It may sound simple enough, but this is far from a shallow teenage love story. I might even go as far as saying it's a refreshingly original tale all its own. By openly defying formula and predictability, this movie carves its own little niche in the romantic drama genre. It's deeply affectionate and moving (to say the least). But perhaps more importantly, it's intelligent and insightful. The film doesn't just show two teens making love and pass it off as romance; it depicts young adolescence with endearing fondness, but also harsh honesty. Breakout stars Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are as close to perfect here as humanly possible, and if the movie doesn't catapult both of them to superstardom, I just don't know what will. Woodley's Aimee is played with such raw innocence and wide-eyed wonder that it's impossible not to instantly fall in love with her well-developed character. There isn't one scene that goes by in which she isn't entirely believable. Even the way she modestly laughs and shares silent, sweet conversations with Sutter is simply enough to make any viewer's heart feel warm. Speaking of Sutter, Teller is a revelation as our main protagonist, bringing a satisfying blend of wisecracking humor and sympathetic emotion to would could've been a truly obnoxious character if not handled with the right direction. Luckily, he easily nails the role, and the chemistry he and Woodley share is beyond astonishing. The rest of the cast here is incredible as well, particularly Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Sutter's caring older sister, Jennifer Jason Leigh as his protective mother, and Kyle Chandler as his estranged father. Along with a skillfully written script that feels close to perfect and a wonderfully subtle finale that leaves us wanting more, "The Spectacular Now" shines in its own confident and compassionate way. It's a beautiful love story that not only breaks down usual romantic conventions, but builds its own realistic narrative paths instead. Thanks to Teller and Woodley's Oscar-worthy performances and Ponsoldt's brilliantly keen direction, this is one truly spectacular coming-of-age tale that is not to be missed. So whether you love great teen movies (modern or classic) or just wanna watch a well-acted drama that'll simply surprise you at every turn, it's definitely worth your time. I honestly just can't stress enough how good this film is. You'll just have to see it for yourself. I guarantee you won't regret it.


"The Spectacular Now" invokes emotions that are both nostalgically heartwarming and heartbreaking. In the end you can't help but love Shailene Woodly, admire Miles Teller and if absent, yearn for the one who first stole your heart.


Sutter Keely is the life of every party and with the hottest girl in school at his side he is a king. In a perpetual haze of alcohol, his life is lived in the now. Numb to pain or love, Sutter is oblivious to anything but the hedonistic pleasures of this world. That is, until a misunderstanding leaves him single and being woken up in an unfamiliar front yard by a girl he doesn’t even know. Life will never be the same again. What follows is the best movie of the summer. The Spectacular Now is a masterpiece with more heart and honesty than the entire summer’s movies combined.

This is a powerful film. The performances by Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley will leave you in tears as you feel every single emotion of the characters. This is the kind of movie that makes you thankful for the art of cinema. I cannot recommend this film more.

The Spectacular Now
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  • $14.99
  • Genre: Romance
  • Released: 2013

Customer Ratings