The Spectacular Now   

by director James Ponsoldt

The Spectacular Now is personal for me.

Sutter Keely reminds me of myself as a teenager. I drank a lot, made a joke out of everything and got in trouble way too much. I didn't take anything seriously.

I lived in a college town—Athens, Georgia—and most of my heroes were local musicians and drunks (often the same people).

Then I met a girl.

She was the daughter of two professors—brilliant, shy and not "cool." We started dating.

I wondered what other people would think.

Like most things, I didn't take the relationship seriously. I was young and stupid.

There was heartbreak (having your heart broken sucks).

I begged the girl for a second chance. She gave it to me—because she's a good person.

This was the first time I realized how important kindness can be…and that I was a selfish person.

I wanted to change. I needed to change. I wasn't a kid anymore.

The Spectacular Now reminds me of what it feels like to be alive and angry and confused with emotions at age 18. 

I miss that feeling.

Films about teenagers get a bad rap. Rightfully so.


Because they can feel like they're made by middle-aged men who hated being a teenager—and now they're going to stick it to every bully who ever taunted them, make that pithy comeback they never got to say, and get the girl they believe they totally deserved. 

Or they can be insincere. Or mean-spirited. Or, alternatively, too sentimental— a form of wish-fulfillment.

Why can't movies about teenagers feel like real life?

Of course, there are some great movies about adolescence (Say Anything…,The Last Picture Show, Dazed and Confused, Splendor in the Grass, etc.)...but they're few and far between.

It's hard to capture how painful and awkward and confusing it is to be a teenager.

How many films with a teenage protagonist have possessed the soul of Holden Caulfield? Have had emotions that run deep and true? With real-life complications and problems?

In The Spectacular Now, we wanted to create a film with heart and confusion and real stakes... not unlike some of my favorite romantic dramas about adults (like A Woman Under the Influence, Punch-Drunk Love, Manhattan, Before Sunset, etc.)

The Spectacular Now is a film about teenagers—one that seeks to possess the depth of emotion and honesty and excitement of love (and lust) and pain and anxiety of adolescence that an audience can relate to but is so rarely seen in movies.

The Spectacular Now doesn't pander. Or patronize. Or pity. It aims to be true—to dignify and humanize the complex emotional roller coaster of being a teenager and transform it into something epic... and to help remind you what it's like to be 18.

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