The Spectacular Now

Monday, March 30, 2015


"The Spectacular Now" official still photo - source: imdb.com

It’s fine to live in the now, but the best thing about now, is that there’s another one tomorrow. It’s time to start making them count.” –Sutter Keely (The Spectacular Now, 2013)

Compared to other kids, I haven’t had that many hardships. Not really. Shit’s happened ..., stuff’s happened, sure, stuff always happens. But the real challenge of my life, the real hardship is me. It’s always been me. As long as I can remember, I’ve never not been afraid. Afraid of failure, of letting people down, hurting everyone, getting hurt. I thought if I kept my guard up, focused on other things, other people, if I couldn’t even feel it, well then no harm would come to me. I screwed up. Not only did I shut out the pain, I shut out everything. The good and the bad. Until there was nothing. I’m not gonna do that anymore.” –Sutter Keely (The Spectacular Now, 2013)

It’s good to have dreams. Don’t you think?” –Aimee Finicky (The Spectacular Now, 2013)

Title                  : The Spectacular Now
Director             : James Ponsoldt
Starring             : Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley
Genre                : drama, romance, comedy
Distributor         : A24
Release date      : 2 August 2013
Running time      : 95 minutes

"The Spectacular Now" movie poster - source: imdb.com

Several days ago, I read an interesting thing that a friend of mine, Damas Nawanda, wrote in his Facebook, and the credit goes to him. He said that he learnt there are two kinds of people that can help you grow; first are they whose presence forces you to become who you need to be, and second are they whose presence will help you discover a better part of you. Furthermore, he stated that the first kind will force you through your continuous effort to fix what you lack, like plowing through the rainy days, knowing the sun would shine. And the second kind will help you discover something you never thought you could do before, like a nice surprise that can help you jump higher. Well, nicely written, Dam! Anyway, I agree with his point of view. Indeed, people become a grown-up not because they choose to be, but because they have to be; by force, of situation, condition, surroundings, certain people. And indeed, people become a grown-up not because they’re getting old by age, but because they realize that they’re old enough to be; by discovery, of something new, unpredictable, surprising, life-changing.
Coming-of-age is an important phase in a human’s life. This phase is a stepping stone for us to define who we really are and who we’re going to be. Everyone we meet during this phase, will either become the person who forces us to become who we need to be, or become the person who helps us discover a better part of us. Everyone we know during this phase, whether it’s family, friends, teachers, lovers, will make us grow as a person. Everything that happens during this phase, will either forces us to become who we need to be, or helps us discover a better part of us. Everything we experience during this phase, will make us grow as a person. I know that I’ve already passed my coming-of-age, and I understand that I’m still learning how to act like a grown-up, but, taking a look back at my coming-of-age is always exciting. It was a great time; a spectacular one. If only I were given a chance to go back, I would go back all the time. But still, I wouldn’t change anything about it. Of course there’s this kind of ‘what if’ temptation. What if I didn’t do that? What if I chose this way? Would it be different now? But still, everything happens for a reason, even when we haven’t realized it yet. Things that had happened, things that I had been through, they made me who I am today. Whether they’re good or bad memories, they’re the spectacular yesterdays.

"The Spectacular Now" official still photo - source: imdb.com

Talking about all of this; growing up, coming-of-age; this reminds me of a movie I watched some times ago. It’s a 2013 American coming-of-age movie titled “The Spectacular Now”. And yes, this movie is today’s My Choices: Continue Living. It tells about the life of Sutter Keely (portrayed by Miles Teller), during his senior year of high school. As ordinary as an 18-year-old boy can be, he’s charming and self-possessed. He’s the life of the party, loves his job at a men’s clothing store, and has no plans for the future. He is also a budding alcoholic. His girlfriend, Cassidy (Brie Larson), unable to cope with his alcoholism and lack of ambition, decides to dump him for another boy, Marcus (Dayo Okeniyi). Drinking to numb his pain, Sutter passed out on a stranger’s lawn. He’s awakened one morning after an alcohol-induced blackout, by Aimee Finicky (portrayed by Shailene Woodley), a girl who wears no makeup and reads science fiction and manga during her free time; a total opposite of Cassidy.
Aimee is obviously attracted to Sutter, while Sutter himself still seems not to have moved on yet from Cassidy; but as innocent as she can be, Aimee doesn’t realize that. On one morning, Sutter wakes up and realizes that he asked Aimee to prom while drunk. He avoids Aimee, knowing he can't commit to taking her to prom. Aimees friend Krystal (Kaitlyn Dever) tells him not to treat Aimee badly as she is a genuinely good person and doesn’t need Sutter hurting her. Sutter takes her advice and asks Aimee to dinner with his estranged sister Holly (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). At the dinner Aimee talks frankly about the death of her father and her dreams of a perfect marriage, charming everyone including Sutter. Sutter and Aimee begin to get serious, having sex for the first time. Sutter buys Aimee a flask as a gift when they attend prom, and despite a moment where Sutter dances with Cassidy, their night goes well. But then, Sutter decides to meet his estranged father, without knowing that it would be his life-changing moment.

"The Spectacular Now" official still photo - source: imdb.com

“The Spectacular Now”, for me personally, is a heart-warming movie. And I have to give credit not only to the production team, but also for the actors. They successfully brought their characters into life amazingly. Miles Teller was spectacular in this movie! And Shailene Woodley too, she played her part as the supporting actress very well. As ordinary teenagers that we’ve known and (perhaps) we’ve been, they portrayed Sutter and Aimee perfectly. As down to earth as it could be, as real as it could be, watching those two somehow reminds me of my own senior year during high school; the atmosphere. It brings me back to that time in life when I was trying to soak in every moment, because everyone told me that there’s nothing better than the last year in high school. Well, I have to say that my own senior year wasn’t as memorable, compared to the last year in middle school, or in college. But still, it brings me there. Especially when Aimee broke her arm, well, coincidentally I broke my arm during the senior year too.
Other than the characters, the storyline of “The Spectacular Now” hits me hard. It brought the daily issues in a teenager’s life that everyone probably has experienced. From the family issue until the romance issue, and the way how Sutter dealt with them, this movie has a solid plot with some captivating twists within it. Those problems are real, most of teenagers, not only in America but also in my country, have been through that too. But sadly, not many coming-of-age movies could portray that story like the way this movie did. Moreover, the main attraction lies in the main problem that Sutter has to face in this movie; a big decision he has to make in the senior year, a decision that would lead to his future. As for this one, I believe, every person has been through it before. Choosing what will you do after high school, deciding what will you choose to define your future, and graduating high school is a life-changing moment, and this, this is what leads to the next point I’m about to talk, the moral of the story from this movie.

"The Spectacular Now" official still photo - source: imdb.com

Watching “The Spectacular Now” gave me reassurance about a thought; that ready or not isn’t about time, it’s about the now, what happens now. If people were asked before, then no one was ready to become a grown-up. If people were asked before, then no one was ready to accept the reality. But when the reality hits hard, that’s when we have to face it. Whether we’re ready or not, that’s when we have to be ready for it. What’s coming is what we have to deal with. So, here, becoming a more mature and responsible person is a demand instead of a choice. No one is ready if they were asked about having a troubled father. But when it turns out that you have one, then that’s what you have to deal with. No one is ready if they were asked about graduating high school and choosing whether go to college or find a job. But when it’s time to graduate, then that’s what you have to face. And the change of behaviour that happens to a teenager when they grow up is affected by two things; feeling and logic.
Sutter was forced to become who he needed to be; it was his feeling that was touched and it moved him. He was helped to discover a better part of him; it was his logic that was triggered and it moved him. Through Sutter, and what he’s being through in this movie, “The Spectacular Now” tried to tell us that we live in the now, so make the best out of it. Everything that happens is a lesson, which will whether force us or help us to grow up. Every choice we make, everything we choose to do, it affects not only our present but also our future, so don’t let the past ruins it, but let it be the counselor that guides you. Don’t be afraid to make wrong choices, they’re also a lesson, which will whether force us or help us to grow up. When there’s a will, there’s a way; simple saying it is, but it’s true. There’s nothing such as too late, as long as you have the will to make it right. So, while we’re living in the now, let’s make the best out of it.

"The Spectacular Now" official still photo - source: imdb.com

From the scriptwriter of “(500) Days of Summer” (2009), Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, “The Spectacular Now” is based on the novel of the same name written by Tim Tharp. It was premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on January 18th 2013, and was warmly received as it garnered critical acclaim. Many critics praised the leads, Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, for showing a great chemistry as well as portraying their own individual part in a very charming way. They also stated that this movie is a rare one, for its ordinary yet extraordinary sincere storyline. Anyway, despite what they said about this movie, it got me so, definitely. Like what Peter Travers said about this movie; hits you like a shot in the heart. The way it depicted teenager’s attitude about the future, that reminds me somehow; everyone is eventually always growing up. At every point in life, we have to seize the moment, or just let the moment seizes us. And at some point in life, we have to make the choice.


You think beauty’s in some classroom or some textbook, and it’s not. That’s not what it’s about. This right here, this is beautiful, all of this. That’s all you need.” –Sutter Keely (The Spectacular Now, 2013)

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