The Spectacular Now Reviews

Top Critic
Andrea Gronvall
Chicago Reader
August 23, 2013
[A] nuanced and unsentimental coming-of-age film.
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
August 23, 2013
This adaptation of Tim Tharp's novel, directed with delicate restraint by James Ponsoldt, sneaks up on you. It makes you laugh, then it breaks your heart.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Adam Graham
Detroit News
August 23, 2013
Teller and Woodley hum together, and the movie does their performances justice.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
August 22, 2013
This coming-of-age movie should appeal to smart, sensitive young people who haven't been exposed to the better examples of the genre.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
August 16, 2013
The film is engrossing all the way through, the sweetest, saddest, most humane movie I've seen all year.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
August 16, 2013
So many films featuring teens seem overstimulated or familiar. This one strikes a deep, rich note and holds it.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
August 16, 2013
By the end of The Spectacular Now, you're not quite ready to let these characters go.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
August 15, 2013
James Ponsoldt's "The Spectacular Now" hits on something few movies do: an honest, believable depiction of teenagers, in love and out.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
August 15, 2013
A cleareyed, disarmingly tender teenage romance that bears comparison with the best of its genre, both old ("Say Anything") and new ("The Perks of Being a Wallflower").
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
August 15, 2013
The Spectacular Now captures the exhilaration and confusion, longing and dread of young romance with raw honesty and insight. Nothing rings false, nothing feels "cute."
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Linda Barnard
Toronto Star
August 15, 2013
It's rare hybrid: a movie that can find an audience among both adults and teens.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Richard Roeper
Chicago Sun-Times
August 12, 2013
In The Spectacular Now, the high school seniors look and talk like actual high school seniors.
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Michael Sragow
Orange County Register
August 8, 2013
The Spectacular Now is zesty, funny, sad, and wise beyond its characters' years.
Full Review | Original Score: A
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Stephanie Merry
Washington Post
August 8, 2013
The movie captures the raw excitement and heartbreak of adolescence so completely that it manages to replace a seen-it-all jaded heart with the butterflies that accompany fresh experiences.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
August 8, 2013
It feels real, its emotions earned. It shies away from the Big Dramatic Moment for the most part, instead doling out little victories and small defeats, which is similar to the way most of us experienced our teen years.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
August 8, 2013
Fairly close to great, a lovely movie about young people that is in no way a formula picture. Original, truthful and moving: It's not about the phenomenon of being young, but about the particular characters, who are as specific and vivid as actual people.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
August 8, 2013
Woodley is genuinely wonderful in it. And Teller's right behind her.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
August 2, 2013
James Ponsoldt, who directed from a script by Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter, is a bit too glib to do justice to this material, but the young actors, especially Woodley, are quite fine.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
August 2, 2013
The two leads, Miles Teller's Sutter Keely and Shailene Woodley's Aimee Finicky are so well drawn and believably portrayed that it's impossible not to accept them as real.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Roger Ebert
RogerEbert.com
August 2, 2013
Here is a lovely film about two high school seniors who look, speak and feel like real 18-year-old middle-American human beings. Do you have any idea how rare that is?
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Kyle Smith
New York Post
August 2, 2013
The fast-talking but increasingly insufferable Teller ... displays little ability to modulate his performance as the movie gradually turns darker and darker ...
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
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Dana Stevens
Slate
August 1, 2013
Remarkable for the ease with which it positions itself outside this arena of aggressively stylized self-differentiation.
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
August 1, 2013
A wryly funny, compassionate and wise portrait of teens on the cusp of adulthood.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Nicolas Rapold
New York Times
August 1, 2013
Mr. Ponsoldt ably charts a journey through the high stakes of adolescence, with both Sutter and Mr. Teller showing great promise.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Betsy Sharkey
Los Angeles Times
August 1, 2013
[A] culturally astute drama, spiked with enough comedy to make it splendidly intoxicating to watch.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
August 1, 2013
"The Spectacular Now," which was directed by James Ponsoldt, is a movie of uns-unforced, unhurried, unpretentious.
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Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
August 1, 2013
The focus in James Ponsoldt's affecting, intelligent drama is a pair of teenagers, and in them is so much complexity and heart that this casually paced gem feels rich in scope.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
August 1, 2013
James Ponsoldt's funny and touching coming-of-age tale covers old ground with disarming freshness... By taking it slow, The Spectacular Now takes a piece out of you.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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A.A. Dowd
AV Club
August 1, 2013
That these moments end up feeling more true than false, as if torn from a diary and not a screenwriting handbook, is thanks principally to the actors bringing them to life.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Jocelyn Noveck
Associated Press
August 1, 2013
A pure gem of a teen romance graced with sparkling acting by its young leads, Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, as high-school seniors falling awkwardly in love.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
July 31, 2013
It often bugged me while I was watching it, but I couldn't stop thinking about it afterwards, which made it an awful lot like observing someone else's flawed love affair in real life.
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Alan Scherstuhl
Village Voice
July 30, 2013
Hey, Hollywood can still do romance!
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Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out
July 30, 2013
You watch the movie with your heart in your throat ...
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
July 29, 2013
The Spectacular Now was adapted from a novel by Tim Tharp, and that's part of what accounts for its rich and exploratory psychological texture, but it's also not afraid of being an all-out teen movie.
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Rob Nelson
Variety
July 29, 2013
This bittersweet ode to the moment of childhood's end builds quietly to a pitch-perfect finale.
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James Rocchi
MSN Movies
July 29, 2013
The Spectacular Now is a finely-made, assured and deeply felt film that still has hope and love in it, precisely because it understands, and shows, what hope and love cost.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
Top Critic
David Denby
New Yorker
July 29, 2013
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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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
July 22, 2013
Most teen movies are cocktails of melancholy and elation. This one is best at its most un-transcendent-when it most evokes that period when we never knew what we were supposed to do with the pain.
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Jordan Hoffman
Film.com
January 30, 2013
"The Spectacular Now" wins a lot of points for avoiding conventional scenes
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Todd McCarthy
Hollywood Reporter
January 20, 2013
A sincere, refreshingly unaffected look at teenagers and their attitudes about the future.