Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Spectacular Now - 3 stars out of 10

The Spectacular Now - 3 stars out of 10

“The Spectacular Now” was anything but spectacular.  This snoozefest has some of the least believable acting and one of the worst scripts ever.  While the ending is poignant and the events leading up to it are important, the first 75 minutes are so bad that the conclusion loses its effectiveness.  This could have been one of the best coming-of-age endings since “Dead Poets Society” but instead, I question what percentage of people actually makes it to the end.  The first issue is the script.  There are moments that seem as if a teenager wrote it.  “I got into college.”  “You got into college?  That’s awesome!”  “Yeah, it’s pretty cool that I got into college.”  Who says that?  I was so confused when this film spoke in generalities.  Wouldn’t these characters find it important to mention which college?  What is the significance of Aimee being accepted into a college in Philadelphia if we have no clue what state they live in?  It could be in the south or it could be in Ohio for all we know.  Or my favorite: “You are the school’s star athlete!”  So… football?  Basketball?  Track?  Why does this character have to be a generic athlete?  What does this film gain by creating awkward dialogue to leave out details like the name of their school?  The second issue is the actors.  The director wanted to create a candid effect through simple dialogue and long tracking shots.  It felt like they were trying to replicate “Before Sunrise” with teenagers, but these actors simply do not have the acting chops of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.  Instead, Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley put on bland performances with flirtation so boring that it would not attract anybody.  The shame is that Woodley gives Aimee that "cute factor" and Teller has some amazing moments toward the end, but they are all overshadowed by the blandness that the script forces on them.  My largest issue with this film is the content.  This is basically the story of an alcoholic teenager who corrupts a nice girl in order to find himself, and everything works out in the end.  What message is this sending to moralistic teenage girls?  Why can’t Hollywood tell girls that they should help a jerk to become a better person, or better yet, try to find a nice guy instead of a jerk.  Why do we paint a picture that nice girls should lower their standards to find love?  This issue goes all the way back to “Grease” in the 70’s and our society simply has not learned because of these influences.  The critics loved the idea of this film but I think that they confused the final product for its potential.

[Pictured: Teller and Woodley make a much cuter couple when they aren't talking]

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