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In 2009, screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber willfully threw out the book on romantic comedies for (500) Days of Summer. The indie centered on a love affair between a hopeless romantic and could-be dream girl who insists she doesn’t crave commitment. With the combined star power of the ever-charming Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the adorkable Zooey Deschanel, this unconventional comedy with a whip-smart script became a sleeper hit, launching everyone involved to the next level. While director Marc Webb went on to reboot The Amazing Spider-Man, Neustadter and Weber created a short-lived sitcom (Friends With Benefits) before returning to film with another tale of love called The Spectacular Now.
This time around, Neustadter and Webb put their observational eye and skill for banter to a story of a teen romance that blossoms between two unlikely lovers. Miles Teller stars as party animal and general screw-up Sutter Keely; Shailene Woodley, who recently won widespread praise for her heartbreaking performance in The Descendants, co-stars as Aimee Finicky, a good girl who meets this bad boy when she finds him passed out on someone's lawn after a hard night of high school shenanigans. But you can see that for yourself in the trailer above, courtesy of MTV.
It's clear from the trailer that this is far from your typical teen rom-com. For one thing, Teller looks like an average high schooler, not a buffed and perfectly coiffed sex god who's playing a teen but is actually closer to 30 than 18. And while Woodley is undoubtedly a gorgeous young woman, here she's shot without the typical glossy makeup that would make the female lead look magazine cover flawless. Plus there is a roughness to their verbal exchanges that make them feel impromptu, not rehearsed. In a word, director James Ponsoldt seems to have set out to make a movie that feels and looks more truthful to everyday teen experiences than the slick fantasy of love and group dance numbers the genre is known for.
The Spectacular Now opened to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. In Katey's positive review from the fest, she declared, "this is that rare, rare Sundance movie about a young man's personal struggles that also feels like it matters," adding, "you'll be hearing a lot about this one down the road, and it's got the goods to live up to the hype." With buzz like this, it is no wonder the film was quick to score distribution.
A24, the banner that has brought forth such sensational offerings as Ginger & Rosa, Spring Breakers, and The Bling Ring, will open The Spectacular Now in limited release on August 2nd. In the meantime, you can look to the film's Facebook page for stills and helpful bits of advice like this one: