‘Spectacular Now’ is not so spectacular

Photo courtesy of flavorwire.com

Photo courtesy of flavorwire.com

As we settled into our seats in a narrow, dimly lit a/perture cinema screening room, I’ll admit I openly cringed once my friend gave me a plot summary of the movie we were about to watch. She billed it as a “high school love story.” She read my face and quickly tried to appease me.

“But don’t worry, it’s artsy and cinematic,” as if those were the magic words that would make it OK. Deciding it was too late to turn back considering I’d already bought a movie ticket and some trendy cheddar flavored popcorn, I sighed deeply and turned my attention to the screen.

The next 95 minutes filled me with all kinds of emotions — but mostly I found I should have trusted my original instincts. My mood lightened during the previews once I looked up The Spectacular Now on IMDb and found that Kyle Chandler, of Friday Night Lights would be gracing us with his presence. If Coach Taylor gave it his seal of approval that should count for something, right?

In the opening scene, a slightly tipsy Sutter Keeley, played by Miles Teller, brings a beer to his lips and braggingly paints us a picture of his life — he’s a notoriously hard-partying high school senior. In a word, his life is “awesome.” In fact, the word “awesome” made its way into the dialogue no less than 20 times throughout the film.

We follow Sutter’s day-to-day agenda, which usually consisted of slacking off at school, partying and waking up with zero recollection of what happened the day before. Rarely does a scene go by in which the camera doesn’t discretely zoom in on Sutter’s ever-present flask or a Styrofoam convenience store cup that has no doubt  been spiked. The whole movie basically functioned as a PSA against underage drinking, thinly disguised by well-executed cinematography.

Although the dialogue dragged, Teller put forth a convincing effort. Without giving too much away about the plot, I did shed a few tears when Sutter confronts his mom about his estranged father toward the end. But then the moment passes and the audience resumes a love-hate relationship with the self-proclaimed social bad ass.

Shailene Woodley, casted as awkward Aimee Fineky, plays the girl-next-door to the girl-next-door. The film’s promo site gives us a brief synopsis of their relationship, “[Sutter] unexpectedly falls in love with the ‘nice girl’ Aimee Fineky.” The “unexpected” part stems entirely from the audiences’ realization that Woodley’s character brings absolutely nothing to the table. In every scene, Teller’s character carries the conversation for the both of them. In all honesty, if my eyes did not deceive me, I would probably have forgotten she was even there.

Overall, what the movie really had going for it was its relevance to the target audience. Most college-goers will relate to the coming-of-age experiences as Sutter and Aimee navigate through their senior year of high school. Some scenes really strike a chord with our collective shared past and a number of times I thought, “Wow, that was really accurate.”

But alas, between the countless snippets of drunk driving near-accidents and the  lack of chemistry between two teens who claim to be in love, I wasn’t entirely sold on the “spectacular” aspect.

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