* * *
(Somber, serious coming-of-age movie)
Not all teenage coming-of-age movies are silly and stupid. “Spectacular Now” is quite the opposite: Somber and serious.
Miles Teller stars as Sutter, a high school senior whose MO is living life fully in the present. Sutter carries a lot of baggage beneath his self-confident, arrogant exterior. Like his father, who disappeared when he was young, he drinks too much and lives for the here and now.
After his girlfriend ditches him, he goes on a drinking binge and ends up the following morning sleeping on Aimee’s lawn.
Aimee is the high school introvert, content to live in her own little world. Aimee has never had a boyfriend and has no young friends. She lives with her single mom, arising early to do her paper route, which is about all that is in her life.
Sutter works his charm on Aimee, helping her to come out of her shell and rebel against her controlling mother. He also introduces her to sex and alcohol.
Sutter tells his best friend that he is “just trying to help this girl out,” and we fear that he may be doing just the opposite. But then there is the possibility that she may end up helping him.
There is a poignant scene where Sutter seeks out his father, determined to find out why he left and discovering that he has passed on the attitude of living for today...and his alcoholism.
Teller got on my nerves a bit, but Shailene Woodley as Aimee is nothing short of delightful as the plain girl who is swept off her feet and grows up quickly.
“Spectacular Now” is a bit of a morality tale, delving into the psyches of two young people whose lives are affected by their parents and each other. And it has a satisfying if slightly open-ended conclusion.
Rated R because of profanity, sex and alcohol use but appropriate for mature teenagers, who may identify with the characters and learn something from them.