The Spectacular Now

It's going to be really, really hard for me to not compare the book and the movie in this review, since I recently read The Spectacular Now and absolutely loved it, and I was going to try not to; but it's inevitable that comparisons will be made. I'm not the type of person that gets angry if minuscule details vary from the novel to its movie adaptation, but the movie was very different from the book, and I have to say that I much preferred the book version.

Sutter (Miles Teller) is all about "the now" - he doesn't make plans for the future, and he likes to get drunk frequently. Until, that is, on one hungover morning, he meets Aimee (Shailene Woodley), a classmate of his who is all about the future - she gets into college in Philly and wants to move there, but can't because she has to help her mom with her mom's paper route. Sutter's original goal is to maybe have some fun with Aimee, who has never had a real boyfriend before, but soon it turns into something more serious, even though events keep happening that should deter Aimee from falling for him (but which do not).

First off: the casting was pitch-perfect in this film. I loved Miles Teller in Footloose, and his character here is similar to whom he played there, except that he's more of a drunk. Woodley works perfect as Aimee, who is supposed to be a sweet, mostly innocent type of girl. In the book, Cassidy is overweight but "like a queen," Sutter's character says, and here they decided to go for a more slim girl (Brie Larson), as I suspected they would. Kyle Chandler and Jennifer Jason Leigh also have brief roles as Sutter's parents, who are divorced and also estranged.

I think that even if I had not read the novel before seeing this movie, I would still give it the rating I am going to give it. I loved parts of the film, as they were real and also heartwrenching, but the movie proceeded at a very slow pace throughout, and the trailer leads us to believe otherwise. I liked that the filmmakers portrayed them as normal teenagers, as some reviews have been saying - I saw acne on Teller's face at some points throughout, and neither Teller nor Woodley are very "glamorous" or "Hollywood"-looking here - but at the same time, this may have contributed to the slowness, because the filmmakers were trying to make the events more "real life"-like.

Maybe see this film. I have to recommend the book over the movie, just because we are able to get into Sutter's head more - he's the first-person narrator of the book - and the characters as a whole are more fleshed out in the book version. The ending is made more "Hollywood" in the film version, as I predicted it would be, but I will say that I didn't hate the ending the filmmakers chose to use. I will also say that if you choose to see this movie, don't read the book first - you might enjoy it more that way, because if you do read it beforehand, you'll want to compare the two, and find that the movie pales in comparison, unfortunately.

The Spectacular Now is in theaters today, August 23rd, and is rated R with a runtime of 95 minutes. 2.5 stars out of 5

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