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Sundance review: "The Spectacular Now"

Published January 22, 2013 7:56 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

"The Spectacular Now"

U.S. Dramatic

***1/2 (three and a half stars)

Teen angst, a Sundance staple pretty much forever, is presented in honest and heartbreaking fashion in director James Ponsoldt's follow-up to his Sundance '12 hit "Smashed." This drama, based on a Tim Tharp novel, centers on Sutter (Miles Teller), a happy-go-lucky high-school senior whose "live in the now" philosophy covers up a lot of self-loathing and a serious alcohol problem. After getting dumped by his party-hearty girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson), Sutter strikes up a relationship with Aimee (Shailene Woodley), a science-fiction fan who's nothing like the girls Sutter usually dates. Sutter tries to play it cool, but Aimee turns out to be more challenging — and more worth the challenge — than anyone he's ever met. Ponsoldt and writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber send the story into unexpected directions (including a moment that made the entire Library Center Theatre jump as one). Teller and Woodley are outstanding in a cast that includes some powerhouse performers, including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Kyle Chandler.

- Sean P. Means

"The Spectacular Now" screens again: Sunday, 3:30 p.m., Redstone Cinema 1, Park City; Tuesday, noon, Eccles Theatre, Park City; Wednesday, 6 p.m., Tower Theatre, Salt Lake City; Friday, 5:30 p.m., Library Center Theatre, Park City.