In The Spectacular Now, two kids as specific as you are fall into slow, uncertain love, their hearts filling up with each other but not always synchronously. You know that person you made out with one weekend in high school, the one whose kiss made the world fall away-- but then breezed by like you didn't exist during Monday's passing period? There's plenty of that here, but with one thing that really would have helped back then: a clear sense of psychology. The lovers here are not a natural match, and when apart they have to dare themselves to keep going—it would be simpler for Sutter Keely (Miles Teller), a Georgia small town's king of beers, to party on without Aimee Finicky, a college-bound tutor-type whose wallflower-to-beauty transformation isn't ridiculous. Shailene Woodley's shy Aimee heads to school with bigger things to worry about than teen beauty-- popular high school boys truly might be dumb enough not to notice her until the day she turns up fetchingly tanned and tank-topped at a campground kegger. She's a tender, moving creation, marvelously played. The movie is the boy's story, of course, as serious film romances unfailingly are. Fortunately, this boy is a slothful charmer, as drunk on his own good humor as he is on the contents of his flask, the kind of movable fiesta a young Tom Hanks could have played. Unlike his '80s comedy forbears, this slob is treated as a dismaying riddle rather than a beacon of everydude honesty-- his challenge isn't to triumph over the stock-type snobs, it's to shape all his likable traits into a self with something to offer the adult world.
James PonsoldtMiles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyle Chandler, Bob Odenkirk, Kaitlyn Dever, Andre RoyoMichael H. WeberA24