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Living in the now of a high schooler

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"The Spectacular Now" movie review

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How someone chooses to live in the moment or of the present not only impacts them but others around them.

Miles Teller is Sutter, the life of the party of the upcoming graduating high school senior class. His popularity stems from his larger than small-town persona in "The Spectacular Now." He bares a slight resemblance to a young John Cusack who also had humble beginnings in '80s teenage romance films.

But behind all the fun and enjoyment, lies deeper issues within stemming from his lack of relationship with his father. To anguish the pain, he keeps himself inebriated that leads to his downfall.

His ego becomes deflated after the breakup from his partner in fun and adolescent amours Cassidy (Brie Larson). Through an unusual encounter, he’s awoken to the sight of Aimee (Shailene Woodley). From there friendship and courtship takes in effect through the views of a teenager.

Ms. Woodley’s character is a complete turnaround from the one she portrayed in “The Descendants.” Here she is the reserve, quiet and shy girl, until she is noticed by Sutter.

Viewers will be under the impression that the film follows the romantic formula of the popular guy hooking up with the loner just merely as a rebound before he’s reunited with his ex.

But the film delves from that aspect as it focuses entirely on the character of Sutter who wanders through life with no purpose. Perhaps Aimee is someone that he needs to come to the realization that as opposed to living in the moment that he should start to be concerned about his future.

The relationship between Sutter and Aimee benefits each party. For Sutter, it’s the opportunity to make the ex jealous and regret her mistakes of letting him go. While for Aimee she gets the boyfriend experience and affection that she has been looking for.

But the benefits also outweights the consequences as Sutter realizes his influences upon Aimee as she picks up on his vices. As a teenage male, he's unsure of whether or not he's ready for a serious relationship when all he wants to do is just enjoy the life to the fullest with someone so enamored with him.

Through Sutter's inflated ego, he believes that he’s doing Aimee a favor by building up her self confidence and worth in the eyes of others in the stomping ground of high school and its hierarchy through social cliques.

Both these characters come from similar backgrounds of the broken family system with Sutter being reared by a single mother with refuses to tell him how to get in contact with his father. The closest mother figure he has is his sister, Holly (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who he turns to for advice and guidance. Aimee, who is also reared by a single mother, has to grow up quickly than expected as she’s expected to pickup the slack of the household.

It is through the promise that they make toward one another that allows for their characters to develop and mature as they transition to life after high school.

As mentioned previously, Sutter suffers from the lack of a positive male figure in his life, and if there’s to be a surrogate father it would have to be Bob Odenkirk’s portrayal of men’s retail store clothes owner Dan where Sutter shows some signs of responsibility through his after-school employment.

The movie is an homage to the ‘80s teenage romance angst films from the viewpoints of the adolescents who are learning about their feelings of not only themselves but of others as they begin their romantic endeavors. Viewers of the film will also recognize Jennifer Jason Leigh in her supporting character role as Sutter's mother who’s only doing what’s best for her son.

The lack of the parental vision, adults and authority figures outside the realm of education shows that the teenagers who are about to become adults themselves go through the learning curves and pain when it comes to love. The film's progression leaves the viewer with the question of whether or not the love affair between Sutter and Aimee will preserve as the dynamics of the characters change either for the better or for the worse because of it.

Classification: Redbox New Release Blu-Ray

Movie Grade: 4 out of 5 stars

A teenage romance film that doesn't invovle vampires, werewolves or the supernatural proves that romance can actually exist between human beings in this new generation of teenage romance angst film that pays homage to its predecessors.

Blu-Ray Grade: 4 out of 5 stars:

The extra features includes director commentary from James Ponsoldt as well as behind the scenes look at the inception from novel to film. The only thing to skip is the deleted scenes.

Rating: R for alcohol use, language and some sexuality - all involving teens

Timing: 1 Hour, 35 Minutes

Genre: Romance, Drama, Comedy.

• Director: James Ponsoldt

• Screenplay: Scott Neustadter & Michael H Weber
Novel: Tim Tharp

• Cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Mary Elizabeth Winstead with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bob Odenkirk.

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