Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

August 20, 2013

CALLERI: 'The Spectacular Now' is a small picture with large potential


Niagara Gazette — Woody Allen’s outstanding “Blue Jasmine,” has quickly become a hit. Moviegoers are eager to see Cate Blanchett’s Oscar-worthy performance as a wealthy woman who has re-written her life history and finds herself, because of financial circumstances, compelled to invent yet another new persona.

Extremely popular is “We’re The Millers,” a crass and weak comedy about a fake family that has to smuggle marijuana, the appeal of which will depend on your tolerance for raunchy humor and very familiar pot jokes. It’s Cheech and Chong meets a stripper pole.

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” is a well-made history lesson about an African-American White House butler who served Presidents of the United States for decades. The film is beautifully acted by Forest Whitaker as the servant, but the stunt casting of so many notable actors playing different presidents slows down the movie. “The Butler,” based on the life of an actual person, fictionalizes everything, and therefore rings false when it makes it seem as if each president was only concerned with Civil Rights. It becomes less about the butler and more about audience manipulation.

“Jobs” is a dull and shallow exploration of the life of Apple computer genius Steve Jobs. You sit and watch the air go out of what should have been an engaging picture about the inventor who changed the way we communicate. The film lacks passion. Jobs comes across as a smirking guru thanks to a listless performance by Ashton Kutcher, who mumbles and whispers and never lets us feel Jobs’s emotional intensity.

“The Spectacular Now” is a movie about teenagers but with a major difference. It’s good. This is not your typical, silly, party animal picture.

Sutter, well acted by relative newcomer Miles Teller, is a high school senior drifting along with a hail-fellow-well-met attitude. He’s absent a father and his mother won’t tell him where he is. His girlfriend dumps him because she doesn’t see a future together. Smart girl. Depending on how you feel about such things, Sutter is already an alcoholic or is on the cusp of becoming one. His ever-present flask of whiskey holds the glue that keeps him on an even keel.

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