Judd: In the Spectacular Now, Sutter is 18 years old and enjoying the last moments of his days in high school. With a drink constantly in hand, he schmoozes, carouses and charms his way into all social circles. Sutter is Vince Vaughn in almost any Vince Vaughn movie. Oh, and that drink I mentioned? When I mean it’s constantly in hand, I mean that I could smell him from the screen and I imagine he smelled like Dean Martin or Foster Brooks. How his mother, teachers or boss didn’t realize this kid had a drinking problem is beyond me. One night after drunken revelry, Sutter finds himself on the lawn of The Good Girl, Aimee. His car is missing and asks Aimee to help him find it. Like Jack Lemmon offering Lee Remick her first Brandy Alexander, Sutter and Aimee enjoy the following days of wine and roses, until one tragic night…
I’m not going to give away the trauma, because it doesn’t really matter. It’s a plot device used to throw our character to his rock bottom without any real leading decline. After “The Scene” Sutter and Aimee are back in each other’s arms, planning their escape from their suffocating town while exchanging sips from a yellow solo cup.
Performances are acceptable, the best of the bunch being Shailene Woodley’s Aimee. Out of this Spectacular Mess, her character and performance comes across the most genuine, though once tipping back the flask with Sutter her character flattens and becomes the codependent mate. The script’s fault, not Woodley’s. Miles Teller gives us his best Vince Vaughn impression throughout the movie and it doesn’t help matters they kind of look alike. The rest of the cast is there, but ultimately unimportant.
The Spectacular Now has all the trappings of an indie film: poor, natural lighting; a twee soundtrack; and a Wes Anderson-inspired poster done in a Futura typeface. My peers are calling the Spectacular Now “authentic” and “complex” especially when compared to other “coming of age” movies. The fact that the characters act and talk like their 30 years old seems to have escaped them, as well as the fact that the conflict between Sutter and his father is so contrived that it makes Oedipus Rex seem fresh and new.
The Spectacular Now is a pointlessly indie movie made on a shoestring budget with the intention of adding charm. It’s pretentious, flat and contrived. If the fact that it’s a teenage movie that doesn’t revolve around sex knocks my contemporaries back on their heels, there’s as much wrong with the critics circle as there is with Hollywood.
Judd: 2 Stars