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'The Spectacular Now' is often better than the average teen coming-of-age drama

'Spectacular' is sappy in its second half, but stars Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley both give impressive performances.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / August 2, 2013

Shailene Woodley, left, and Miles Teller in a scene from 'The Spectacular Now.'

A24 Films/AP

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“The Spectacular Now,” at least for its first half, is better than one might expect from this teen-coming-of-age genre. (Is any genre more overworked?) Sutter (Miles Teller) is a highly popular high school senior who drinks too much and studies too little. Almost for sport, he cozies up to Aimee (Shailene Woodley), a brainy, retiring type, and discovers he really cares about her – enough to back away from her when it’s clear he’s standing in her way.

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Things get sappy and oversimplified when Sutter, at the fatherless Aimee’s urging, seeks out his errant dad, with predictable repercussions. James Ponsoldt, who directed from a script by Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter, is a bit too glib to do justice to this material, but the young actors, especially Woodley, are quite fine. Grade: B (Rated R for alcohol use, language, and some sexuality – all involving teens.)

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