*** out of ****
It's refreshing that isn't another quirky "indie" teen comedydrama like, say, Submarine (2010), because I'm actually kind of sick of those. The Spectacular Now is a straightforward drama about teenagers. It's smart, thoughtful, and realistic.
Sutter (Miles Teller) is a popular, happy-go-lucky senior in high school; at least, that is what he projects. In reality, Sutter has failing grades, is curious about his absent father, and is on his way to becoming a full-fledged alcoholic. Can his new friendship with awkward girl-next-door type Aimee (Shailene Woodley) save him, or will it make matters worse?
Despite some sluggish spots, The Spectacular Now is an engaging drama with fine performances by the two leads, Teller and Woodley. They act like real teenagers and say things that real teenagers say. This isn't John Hughes territory.
The film is directed by James Ponsoldt, who wrote and directed last year's effective drama Smashed, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a raging alcoholic. Ponsoldt is doing serious drama and I can't wait to see him do it again.