'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 , Film critic

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

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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