The Spectacular Now

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday January 14, 2014

The Spectacular Now

Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) is a teenager who lives in the moment in "The Spectacular Now," James Ponsoldt's film version of Tim Tharp's novel. (The title itself, derived from a line Sutter speaks, suggests as much). That philosophy leads him to drink too much and tune out during his classes. It also leads him to put a distance between himself and the well-meaning adults in his life: Teacher, employer, mother. (The latter is played by Jennifer Jason Leigh.) When he meets a shy classmate named Aimee (Shailene Woodley), Sutter's natural self-confidence gives her a boost. But will her sense of responsibility ground him?

This Blue-ray / DVD combo offers the standard stuff: deleted scenes and audio commentary. Far better, though is the featurette "Then to Now: Making 'The Spectacular Now,' " in which we hear all about how modern-day Hollywood had little interest in making this movie (even though there was, evidently, enthusiasm for seeing it once someone else made it). Blame vampires and werewolves and boy wizards: Industry wisdom dictates that teenagers be portrayed as comic book characters rather than people who live in the real world and struggle to learn its ropes. "The Spectacular Now" creates a portrait of those troubled teen years in the mold of "Say Anything," and Teller and Woodley earn the film its Oscar buzz.

"The Spectacular Now"
Blu-ray / DVD Combo

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.