I can’t believe I was about to let this one slip through the cracks! It’s a really pain in the ass trying to find things to write about, but that’s usually because my life goes in one ear and out the other, Anyway, Mandy was over this weekend and we decided to see a movie. I like our movie dates, mostly because they involve less people. Secondly because unlike my brother and his gang, I rarely go to the movies. But, I love it so much, so it’s nice to go with a person–it gets me up off my ass, which I think every misanthrope needs to try sometimes.
The Spectacular Now looked like the kind of movie I would have loved in high school, so instead of trying to convince the woman to see Pacific Rim (I’ve seen it once already) I figured this movie would be good common ground.
Now before I continue, I would like to mention that I don’t do “reviews.” Watching a movies is far too much of a personal experience for me to try and plaster any objective opinions on it. Accurately stating whether a movie is good or bad seems a little impossible to me. Especially when I think that most “good art” for me is contingent on a loss of innocence and relevance to personal experiences. I’m sorry, but that’s kind of how I see it. Maybe everyone thinks this way and I’m just being a hipster. Whatever. Fuck you. You aren’t writing this. Bottomline: I think that calling anything that I write a “review” would be an attempt to assert a level of cultural dominance of artistic authority that the public has not given me yet. So right now, while I’m writing on a tier beneath the minor leagues of writing and commentating, I present my impression of things.
Impressions of The Spectacular Now
1) Damn. This movie was pretty true to teenagers. Like, the teenagers that I actually felt like I knew. The hallways in the movie look like the reek of Axe spray and unchecked body odor. The actors aren’t “airbrushed” in that annoying Hollywood sense. They sweat, have pimples and pit stains. It’s the first high school of Generation Y’s mythologized past, complete with it’s delusions of self-importance, awkwardness, and social media soap opera antics.
2) Shailene Woodley plays the understated, unassuming, “plain-Jane” of every boy’s dreams in high school. She’s the perfect girl that you didn’t know you wanted. You’ve met her before. I don’t want to sound sexist, but if you were a “normal” girl in high school, you totally made fun of her and her weird books and her boring clothes. If you were a guy in high school, you totally missed her. Now if you met this girl in college, that’s a different story. Smart/Weird people fill out. All of a sudden this quiet girl is the only person speaking in your English classes because she’s the only one who did the reading, but if you tried talking to her then, you’d immediately be deemed too dumb, too immature, or if you were lucky, you would be friend-zoned. She dates a dude from another school, an older guy, a professor, or a girl.
Shailene did a pretty good job and played a really convincing teen. SPOILER: I straight up felt weird and creepy watching her fake lose her fake virginity. Totally real and genuine. She was the perfect girl of the dreams you forget. The perfect opposite of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Can’t wait to see what she does with the Mary Jane role in TASM3. She’ll have an edge on Kirstin Dunst by playing a character that I actually like.
3) Miles Teller. Man. He’s what happens when Vince Vaughn is aged down and spliced with the DNA of Shia LeBouf back when he had a career as a young actor that I actually liked. He’s got that Tom Hanks quality of playing an asshole that I can agree with. I kind of felt that the spirit of his character echoed some of the themes present in Jason’s journey in The Place Beyond the Pines. Both characters are the model of the Gen-Y Hamlet, wearing the faces of their lost fathers in a never-ending trek to find a real identity. I think that Sutter’s story, like Jason’s, is an evolution of that theme of living with the ghost of your father. You live with his face, yet you also live with his strengths and failures. It take a really smart actor to really drive that home. That kind of stuff isn’t driven by meaningless exposition. It’s driven by nuance. The film does a great job of really illustrating the disappointment that comes with realizing that your parents are human beings and often fall short of the grandiose expectations that we imagine.
4) Alcoholism. To me, I thought that the movie showed alcoholism as a symptom, rather than a disease. Cool choice. I think some movies have a tendency to get a little didactic. Smashed was James Pondsoldt’s last movie and I think that movie was kind of his magnum opus on addiction, so it was great to see some familiar material in a different light. With teens involved, this could have turned into an artsy PSA, but the film stuck to its guns and captured part of the most confusing and chaotic times in a young persons life.
5) Relationships. Stories do this thing, man, With love comes revelation. With love comes self-discovery. With love comes a certain joie de vivre. We get it. Love makes us live. Love fills us up.
Not too frequently do we see the complete picture of a relationship. Aside from all the other happy shit we shove down people’s throat we forget that love requires pain. Love involves damage. Love doesn’t make us better. What makes us “better” is perspective. People are “completed” not only by the “successes” and the joys, but also the soul-crushing failures and sorrows. I really thought this movie was as “accurate” as it gets.
Bottomline: The movie didn’t airbrush. The movie didn’t edit out the snot. I really liked that.