Review of the Week: The Spectacular Now

"I can't precisely define 'adorability quotient,'" tweeted the Chicago film critic Nick Davis, "but Shailene Woodley's in The Spectacular Now (which opens on Friday at Cinemark Valley View and at the Cedar Lee Theatre) is eighty million." I'm here to say publicly that that's a wildly conservative estimate. Shailene Woodley's adorability quotient may as well be "infinity" (in grade school terms) for as irrelevant as traditional adorability metrics are when it comes to this performance. She redefines "adorable," you know what I mean? She will be the lofty "adorable" benchmark to which teenage boys unconsciously compare their girls next door for generations yonder.

Woodley (The Descendants) and her co-star Miles Teller (Rabbit Hole) deliver — hate to beat a dead horse — the two best performances of the year. They're Aimee and Sutter, an unlikely pair (she, the "nice girl;" he, the party animal) who stumble upon romance as high school's unwieldy senior year draws to a close and both of their futures remain anything but certain.

Folks, this is what love looks like in America. This is the real deal. Rarely have you rooted harder for a couple and rarely have you seen a courtship so enrapturing and so fun. It's brought to you by the writers of (500) Days of Summer, which was also awesome but believe it or not less affecting. You will be giddy — I mean I was giggling in the theater — as you watch these two interact.

The director is this guy James Ponsoldt who seems sort of obsessed with alcoholics. His two prior feature films both dealt with alcoholism in central ways. It assumes a prominent role in The Spectacular Now as well, though the film would have been just fine without it.

I can't say enough. Each scene is a marvel.

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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