When following up a film like 500 Days Of Summer, there’s a certain amount of emotionality expected in your screenplay. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel presented a heartwarming yet gut-wrenching portrayal of a loving relationship with an ultimate end, but such an unconventional story was thanks to writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber – JGL and Zooey were simply acting it out. The film was praised, adored, and took America by storm, yet one had to wonder how this creative writing team could follow such success – and the answer is equally as impressive.
Neustadter and Weber followed their independent darling with another story of loving relationships, emotional hardships, and surprising revelations, except this time with a younger cast and more of an emphasis on “coming-of-age.” Their follow-up, The Spectacular Now, asserts itself as some of the most touching, emotionally-charged, heart-stopping dramatics of the year, following a boy obsessed with “living in the moment” as he navigates his final days of freedom before deciding on the next stage of his life.
Sutter (Miles Teller) seems like a selfish kid only worried about his next mood-altering beverage, but Aimee (Shailene Woodley) sees more. She sees a Sutter with so much potential, carrying too much inner baggage, and the two strike an unlikely relationship. Sutter is the cool kid who drinks too much and just cares about having fun, while Aimee is the innocent girl next door – but their bond is something special.
While I crowned The Kings Of Summer “Best Coming-Of-Age Story of 2013,” I can honestly say that the winning margin was extremely thin, as I found myself more emotionally invested in director James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now. Again, we can’t ignore the romantically tragic and sweetly inviting story Neustadter and Weber once again bring us, transporting us back to our first true love, but it’s Teller and Woodley who grow together on screen. The groundwork is laid by our writers, but without such a phenomenal cast, we wouldn’t be protective of Aimee as she blindly pursues Sutter and risks being absolutely heartbroken, or sympathetically watch Sutter sabotage his life knowing there’s a hidden root cause for his actions. As far as chemistry goes, no one showed more connectivity than Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, redefining high school romanticism through fears of commitment and embracing future unknowns.
I’ve already discussed at length why you absolutely need to see The Spectacular Now in my theatrical review, so I’ll spare you readers another long-winded analysis, but if you’d like my full, detailed thoughts on James Ponsoldt’s poetic love story, I do encourage you join me for a more in-depth analysis. No point in regurgitating information when it already exists, right? To sum everything up, here’s my bottom line:
Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley bring some heavyweight acting chops to The Spectacular Now, taking your emotions on a beautifully jarring roller coaster ride.
As far as Blu-Ray releases go, The Spectacular Now deserves a place in any independent film fan’s collection, and should be an immediate rent for mainstream filmgoers – who will then most likely add it to their own collections after shedding both tears of pain and joy. As long as you’ve got the proper 1080 setup, the conversion shines a bright spotlight on our lead actors, and the English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio provides an audible balance between conversation and score. Since this is a love story and not a action-packed thriller, there’s more leeway for conversion quality, but The Spectacular Now certainly doesn’t provide a headache-inducing watch.
As far as special features are concerned, here’s what we’re given:
- Deleted Scenes
- Then To Now: Making The Spectacular Now Four Part Featurette (“Inception,” “Cast,” “Aesthetic,” and “Real”)
- Audio Commentary With Director James Ponsoldt
There’s actually a pretty decent amount of behind-the-scenes information to indulge in, separating what could have been one block of footage into categorized videos, giving each watch an ultimate theme. We also have an audio commentary provided by director James Ponsoldt, which does add a unique perspective, but it would have been nice to have Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber in the process, or even Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley – giving numerous insights from a whole slew of perspectives. As for the deleted scenes, they provide a little more content, but nothing that becomes memorable or final cut worthy.
The Spectacular Now doesn’t need flashy extras or gimmicks to demand your hard earned dough, and is a wonderful addition to any cinema lover’s home collection. This is a rare film that wears its colors on its sleeve, and sucks you into the world of Miles Teller’s character Sutter for a watch that could be classified as emotionally bi-polar. Like I said before, you’ll shed tears of heartfelt sorrow and tears of genuine happiness, and I’m not afraid to admit Neustadter and Weber found a way to once again choke up this typical horror buff through real, raw, honest emotion. There’s no Hollywood frills, no overused clichés and no storybook fantasies to be found here, making for a fantastic viewing experience.
The Spectacular Now still stands as one of 2013's best dramedies thanks to a powerful script and emotionally charged acting from a cast full of rising talents.