Sunday, September 8, 2013

Movie Review: The Spectacular Now

I haven't hated a movie in a long time. The Spectacular Now breaks this streak. As much as I disliked The Bling Ring, at least Sofia Coppola knows how to maneuver a fucking camera. The same can't be said for The Craptacular Now's director James Ponsoldt.

Where to begin? Well, like Public Enemy said, "Don't Believe The Hype." I guess that was my first problem. I figured a movie that both friends and critics raved about (with an astonishing 93% on Rotten Tomatoes! WTF?) must be good. Well fuck me for assuming. Had I gone into this screening blind, having only seen the trailer earlier this summer, I might have walked out merely disappointed...instead of fucking livid.

So what's up with this film? Why did The Spectacular Now rub me so raw? Well, the script is hokey (boring, contrived, lazy), the acting is bad (Characters? No. Caricatures? Yes.) and the direction is flat. Like, Kevin Smith "shooting two people in front of a wall talking," flat. I can handle lame dialogue/plot. I can tolerate ham-fisted performances, but if that's the case then at least give me something to look at dude. When a film drops the ball on all three levels, that's when I shut down and have Episode I flashbacks.

Smarmy Douche: The Movie.
The Spectacular Now follows an unlikeable punk named Sutter as he teeters on the brink of graduating high school and faces the grim realities of adulthood. Yeah, it's one of those movies. Only here, the protagonist is a smarmy douche who is so thoroughly unlikable I actually wished bodily harm upon his character. Sutter is a teenage alcoholic from a broken home who masks his inner pains with a court jester facade. He's supposed to be the fast talking, life of the party who woos the ladies and skates through life a la Ferris Bueller or Zack Morris but instead, he comes across as a sloppy John Cusack. He speaks in cliches and is more used car salesman than high school student. After breaking up with his girlfriend, Sutter meets Aimee, the only likable/believable human in the enter film. She's the shy, maidenly bookworm who shows Sutter that it's possible to breathe oxygen without acting like a cliched douche all the time. Props to actress Shailene Woodley for being this films only saving grace. Even with such a horrible script, she did her best. The rest of the cast? Lifetime movie of the week territory.

Don't get me wrong, it is possible to enjoy a film with unlikeable characters. Pain & Gain and Spring Breakers both centered on psychotic narcissists but were entertaining films because they didn't try to force the audience to relate to their asshole protagonists. Like I said before, if the plot and characters are fucked, you better have some sick visual style to win the viewer over with. Alas, The Spectacular Now fails here. Hardcore. I know this is a mega low budget indie film, but with today's technology, there is no excuse for such shoddy imagery on screen. The whole film just looks dark and dingy. Even Mud which takes place in a fucking swamp looked more pristine. I understand not every film can look as gorgeous as The Place Beyond The Pines, but if you want us to sympathize with a smarmy douche like Sutter, aka: the drunk driving captain of the world, how about some thought provoking/haunting shots like THIS huh?

So that's that. The Spectacular Now: the most infuriating movie of the summer. Remember what Chuck D said about hype? He was referring to this trailer.


  1. Wow I don't think I've ever actually heard such hate for a movie. Even with how much I hate X-Men 3 I can say there are some good things about it I did enjoy.

  2. This review is absolutely incredible Jim, I genuinely would call it a hatchet job haha, you completely and utterly destroyed this film and all it's credibility. I'm surprised a 93% rated film raised your ire so much but it sounds like something I wouldn't enjoy either although quite frankly I have no intentions of watching it now!

  3. I couldn't even finish the trailer. What is that.

  4. You are absolutely right - worst movie I have seen in a long time - editing bad, scenes out of sequence, crappy version of Say Anything. What bothers me more is that every critic loved it - yikes! Just crap.