Press Play: 'The Spectacular Now'

Looking for a movie that takes high school sweetheart romance and turns it on its head? ‘The Spectacular Now’ is the movie for you.

Based on the novel by Tim Tharp, ‘The Spectacular Now’ tells the story of high school senior Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) as he struggles to find the perfect subject for his college admissions essay. Following a booze-fueled night, Sutter wakes up in a yard—a yard belonging to the shy and bookish “girl-next-door,” Aimee Finicky (Shailene Woodley). Sutter and Aimee help each other grow into new people in a much different way than the classic romantic comedy fashion.

With a screenplay written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, best known for the 2009 film ‘(500) Days of Summer,’ ‘The Spectacular Now’ features ideas found in Neustadter and Weber’s earlier film. Where ‘(500) Days of Summer’ tackled the idea of debunking the manic pixie dream girl stereotype, ‘The Spectacular Now’ does the same thing to the idealized romanticism of the tired high school romance trope.

Most young love romantic comedies follow this typical structure: “Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl break up. Boy and girl make up, ususally by making out in the rain. Everyone is happy. Roll credits.” ‘The Spectacular Now’ completely destroys this popular Hollywood stereotype by introducing real life issues and very clearly showing the problematic nature of romanticized young relationships.

Let’s get real here: Hollywood romances are (sometimes) incredibly problematic. Oftentimes, lines like, “You’re my life” and “I can’t live without you,” are uttered by either sides of the romantic relationship and deemed completely normal. That kind of dependent behavior upon a significant other is not normal. And, it is most definitely not healthy. ‘The Spectacular Now’ is a perfect mirror up to idealized high school romance itself, and the potentially damaging effects the trope can have in real life.

‘The Spectacular Now’ will make you laugh, cry and scream things like “Nooooo!” and “Awwwww!” at your TV. You’ll root for the characters and find yourself relating to their heartwarming attitudes. It’s a great watch for anyone looking for something that goes against the Hollywood grain in the most realistic fashion.

The Spectacular Now (2013)

Rated: R

95 minutes

Comedy, Drama, Romance

Director: James Pondsoldt

Screenplay by: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber

Original novel by: Tim Tharp

Starring: Miles Teller (‘Whiplash’), Shailene Woodley (‘The Fault in Our Stars’), Brie Larson (’21 Jump Street’) and Kyle Chandler (‘Friday Night Lights’)

For fans of: ‘(500) Days of Summer,’ ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower' and ‘Stuck in Love’

Learn more about the movie here.

This is the first article in a new series titled “Press Play.” This series will feature movie reviews for films pertaining to the college girl, dramatic and comedic, and all enforcing a feminist and empowering point of view.