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The Spectacular Now Review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0
    82

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Richard Roeper

    Here is the best American movie of the year so far.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    A marvel of well-rounded characters, strong performances and disarming chemistry, this deeply felt film is like a loving elegy to the end of childhood. It's easily one of summer's best films.

    Read Full Review

  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    Ordinary in some ways and extraordinary in others, The Spectacular Now benefits from an exceptional feel for its main characters on the parts of the director and lead actors.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The New Yorker David Denby

    The Spectacular Now goes a little soft at the end, but most of it has the melancholy sense of life just passing by — until, that is, someone has the courage to grab it and make it take some meaning and form.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    The Spectacular Now's DNA contains elements of the John Hughes teen dramadies of the '80s. There's also a little Cameron Crowe - in fact, replace the soundtrack with something more dynamic and it might be easy to mistake this with a Crowe film.

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  • 90

    out of 100

    Variety Rob Nelson

    Skillfully adapted from Tim Tharp's novel, evocatively lensed in the working-class neighborhoods of Athens, Ga., and tenderly acted by Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, this bittersweet ode to the moment of childhood's end builds quietly to a pitch-perfect finale.

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  • 90

    out of 100

    Village Voice Alan Scherstuhl

    Director James Ponsoldt gives us long, loose, single-shot courtship scenes, each a marvel of staging and performance.

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  • 90

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    A movie of uns — unforced, unhurried, unpretentious. Though it's sometimes underdramatized, this story of adolescents on the brink of adulthood is refreshingly, and endearingly, unlike the overheated features that have come to define the genre.

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  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    The Spectacular Now doesn't shrink from being an all-out teen movie (it has hookups and a senior prom). Yet it's one of the rare truly soulful and authentic teen movies. It's about the experience of being caught on the cusp and not knowing which way you'll land.

    Read Full Review

  • See all The Spectacular Now reviews at Metacritic.com

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 16+

Poignant teen drama doesn't shy away from alcohol or sex.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Spectacular Now is a coming-of-age story adapted from author Tim Tharp's young adult novel about a hard-partying high school senior whose personal motto is to "live in the now." Although the movie is based on a YA book and is about high schoolers, it features constant underage alcohol consumption (the main character is an alcoholic), strong language ("f--k," "s--t," and more) and a couple of realistic sex scenes (one of which shows a glimpse of breast). Still, despite the mature content, the movie -- like the book -- will make teens think and offers an opportunity for parents and teens to talk about the problems with always living for the moment, the consequences of drinking/partying, and the risks of blowing off school, work, and other responsibilities to do your own thing.

  • Families can talk about all of the substance use in The Spectacular Now. How is it pivotal to the story? What are the consequences of Sutter's drinking? Are they realistic? Does he have a problem? What can/should you do if you know someone who drinks that much?
  • How are teen sexual relationships depicted? Were you surprised to see teenagers having sex in a way that wasn't played for laughs or for raunch factor? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
  • Discuss Sutter's various relationships. Which ones are healthy, and which ones aren't? Does Sutter really know his parents? Why do you think he idolizes his father so much?
  • For those who've read the book, how faithful is the movie to the source material? Do you agree with the changes the filmmakers made? Those who haven't read the book: Does the movie make you want to read it?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: Even though Sutter is drunk a lot of the time, he does spout some thought-provoking ideas, like "embrace the weird" or "live in the now." He supports and encourages everyone around him, even his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend, to see the best in/stand up for themselves. The movie shows how blurry the line between loving someone and enabling them is, and it will make teens think about the downside of partying too much.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Sutter has a big heart but is obviously an alcoholic who can't function without maintaining a daily "buzz" or being flat-out drunk. Marcus is an upright, mature guy who loves Cassidy. Bob cares about Sutter and tries to convince him to stop drinking. Sutter's mother and sister love him but don't really know how to help convince him that he's loved. Aimee loves Sutter unconditionally.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence: The movie isn't violent, but after drinking and driving, Sutter nearly gets in an accident on the highway and pulls over, which leads to another character getting hit by a car.

  • sex false4

    Sex: Sutter makes it clear from the beginning that he and his ex were sexually active (a brief, non-graphic shot shows them having sex on a bed). Sutter and Aimee's first time together is a fairly lengthy scene, with Aimee's breasts briefly visible (she's topless, but her hair is so long that it covers most of her). Sutter and his best friend discuss how far they've gone after a date.

  • language false4

    Language: Language is frequent and includes "motherf---er," "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "p---y," "hell," "damn," "oh my God," "goddamn," and a few insults.

  • consumerism false3

    Consumerism: Brands seen/featured include Apple (iPhone and desktop), Honda Accord, Chevy Durango, Bud Light/Blue Star beer, Publix supermarket, Jansport backpack.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false5

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The teen main character is hardly ever sober and walks around constantly with a big cup of soda that he mixes with gin or vodka. He has a flask that he uses to spike his drinks, and, at a party, he easily downs cup after cup of beer. Hard liquor, shots, beer -- he drinks it all. He's clearly an alcoholic, and he helps convince a non-drinking girl to drink heavily like him. Teens also smoke cigarettes and are served alcohol by adults -- in the main character's case, even by his own estranged (and equally hard-drinking) father.

Fan Reviews provided by

5

by kryst4l02

5

So good! by alexisv97
Great movie. Must watch!

5

by koniaris1919

5

Good by Gilmore235
The movie was funny, sexy, cool, and sad in all. I love this movie!

5

Yes ! by kekejunkmail
Great story, smooth pace & fresh dialogue. I imagine the book is even better! Nice Saturday afternoon type of movie

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