BY Ben Silverio
Teen movies have definitely made a comeback this summer. Besides The Way Way Back and Kings of Summer, a new coming of age tale titled The Spectacular Now just hit theaters this past weekend. Featuring breakout performances from stars Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, the movie follows high school senior Sutter Keely, who lives in the moment rather than dwelling on the past or looking to the future. However, all that changes after his girlfriend dumps him and he meets Aimee Finecky, who isn’t exactly the typical company that he keeps.
Recently, I had the chance to chat with the writers of The Spectacular Now, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber. Prior to this film, they were best known for their work on (500) Days of Summer. During our discussion, we touched on many topics like the manic pixie dream girl trope, the different ways to interpret (500) Days, Scott’s time at UPenn, and the Philadelphia Phillies. But when it came to their latest movie, we mostly talked about inspiration. However, they first shed some light on how they became attached and what attracted them to the project:
“We had wrapped on ‘500’. Our executive on that project at Fox Searchlight sent us this book, ‘The Spectacular Now’, which at the time had just come out. Not a national bestseller or anything, but it had been short listed for a national award for young adults. Growing up on the movies of Cameron Crowe and John Hughes, we missed those sort of movies. The down-the-middle honest portrayal of the emotional complexities of being a young person, and the book really captured that.”
After that, they went into some specific movies that inspired this one like Say Anything, Dazed and Confused, Almost Famous, and The Breakfast Club:
“I think they’re just amazing, just perfect beautiful movies. When they have young characters, they treat them with respect and they don’t talk down to them and there’s no judgment. And we loved those kind of relatable movies when you were that age and you watched it and you saw yourself in the characters and they were going through the same stuff you were going through. Those were always our favorite movies. In fact, back then they used to do those great escapist movies like ‘Back to the Future’, and they were so amazing, but there was the other component. There was the one thing you related to as well.
And now they don’t have that anymore. Just the werewolves and the vampires and the wizards, and at best you’ve got one where somebody’s got to lose their virginity by midnight or else their life is over and just other stuff that we sort of never can really relate to, so this was kind of our opportunity to do one of those again. And so this was our opportunity to do one of those.”
Finally, we talked a bit about love. I thought it would be interesting to get their perspectives on love since they’re often writing stories where love is a pretty big factor. Even their upcoming films The Fault In Our Stars and Rosaline have that element of young love to them. While they claimed that this is just attributed to them being immature, they gave some very interesting insight into some important lessons on love that they’ve learned. One thing that Michael said in particular really stood out:
“There’s a difference between falling in love and loving someone. With the first one, it should happen naturally and almost instantaneous. You don’t entirely understand it. But with the second one, it does involve work, effort, patience, caring, understanding, and communication. Learning the difference between those two is something I feel like I’ll still be learning a few things about as the years go by.”
If you’re one of those people who loves a good teen movie and yearns for those days of the Brat Pack, then you should definitely check out The Spectacular Now. Not only is it a throwback to those kinds of films, but it also stands alone as a fresh, take to the genre that applies to today’s audience. If you missed the Awesomefest’s prescreening, be sure to head over to the Ritz East to catch it before it’s gone.
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