Despite its 2013 release, “The Spectacular Now” remains a tremendously relevant film, especially for college students.
Although its setting and focus is on the relationship and lives of two high-school seniors, the lessons and symbols in the film are axiomatically applicable to the life of a college student.
The film, which is an adaptation of the novel by the same name, centers on two characters, who are played by Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley.
Sutter Keely (Teller) is the quintessential party animal whose main concern is having as much fun as humanly possible. Keely is hesitant to grow up, as he sees nothing better than living in the now and enjoying his youth.
He seldom considers the consequences of his actions, but it’s clear he lives life with an earnest heart. Aimee Finicky (Woodley) is the polar opposite, as her main focus is what’s going to happen post graduating college.
The two meet when Keely wakes up from a night of heavy drinking in Finicky’s lawn. Keely proposes the two get lunch, and Finicky accepts his offer.
The serendipitous encounter begins to create an organic relationship.
As the film goes on, the audience begins to realize that Keely is his own biggest enemy. “The Spectacular Now” is one of the few films where the hero and villain are the same person. Keely is an imperfect protagonist, while the film’s largest antagonist is Keely’s seemingly incurable habits.
Despite having the right intentions most of the time, Keely cannot overcome his own struggles. His alcoholic tendencies lead him to consistently make poor decisions.
It’s a tremendously odd feeling to find yourself rooting for a character who appears that ethically morose, but Teller’s portrayal of the humanly flawed Keely is just that good.
What makes this movie so profound is because of how empathetic its nature is. This is not a film that has dialogue and a storyline that’s too slick for its own good. The reason I believe this film is glaringly relevant to college students is because oftentimes, it’s difficult for people in college to live in the moment. It’s easy to see why focusing on the now is difficult.
After all, college students need to worry about applying for jobs, graduate school and finding a way to alleviate some of the problems created by student-loan debt.
College students have a myriad of issues to be concerned about, and there’s no denying that. However, placing too much worry on the future proves to be counterintuitive to enjoying life. Additionally, the film stresses the importance of being comfortable in your own skin, and living life despite what other people may think about your choices.
One of the largest motifs articulated by this film is that living in the moment, albeit difficult at times, is a spectacular place to live.
While the movie is robust with a litany of sensational quotes, the best utterance comes from Keely. “This right here, this is beautiful … This is the youngest that we’re ever gonna be. This is our time.”