Teenage drama is better in cinematic form

“The Spectacular Now” excels in both mediums, but shows more heart as a movie

In “The Spectacular Now” by Tim Tharp, Sutter Keely is a teenage alcoholic who is the life of any party. After an unexpected break-up with the girl of his dreams, he meets the withdrawn Aimee Finecky and to make his former girlfriend jealous, he brings Aimee out of her shell. Told from the point of view of Sutter, the novel has a teen voice that works well with the plot. “The Spectacular Now” may be morbid, but it is also very shallow. Its adaptation takes a much lighter, but profound road that goes with the medium better.

“The Spectacular Now”, directed by James Ponsoldt, is a quintessential independent movie starring relative up-and-comers Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. The actors fit their roles like gloves, with Teller having the perfect amount of charisma to inhabit the “ultimate partier” and Woodley shows just enough shyness for the audience to root for her. “The Spectacular Now” has a different overall theme than the novel on which it is based, a much more optimistic tone.

Therein lies the major difference. Live-action Sutter really loves Aimee and does not try to change or use her, as he does in the book. While most adaptations are lost behind dropped plot lines, this movie adaptation shines. The talented cast make the roles their own, and the new variation perfectly mixes sarcastic crudeness with sincere drama. In either medium, “The Spectacular Now” brings a realistic voice to teenage years but the movie is for the romantics, the teens who just want that one guy to take them out of their shell.


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