THE SPECTACULAR NOW
Not another teen movie.
But it’s okay. Director James Ponsoldt promises that this love story about a popular guy (Project X‘s Miles Teller) who decides to rescue a wallflower (The Descendants‘ Shailene Woodley) from her own shyness is not another teen movie.
“You hear the phrase ‘teen film’ [and] you make a lot of assumptions – it’s going to be crass or cynical, or there’ll be a lot of potty humor. Or else it’ll be sentimental and schmaltzy,” says Ponsoldt, who was at the festival last year with the alcoholic romance Smashed. “They’re often bowdlerized versions of what actually happens to teenagers, but this is exactly what it’s like when teenagers fall in love for the first time, and have your heart broken, and figure out how to be a man. All those big iconic things.”
Based on the novel by Tim Tharp, the script is by Scott Neustadter and Michel H. Weber, whose previous Sundance collaboration was Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer.
“Their script was lovely, emotional, powerful, honest and for me it was the most honest depiction of adolescence that I’ve ever read,” Ponsoldt says.
Jennifer Jason Leigh, who made her own mark on classic teen cinema with Fast Times at Ridgemont High, plays Teller’s mother, while Friday Night Light‘s Kyle Chandler is his imposing father. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who starred in Smashed last year, plays Teller’s older sister.
“This kid, like a lot of 18-year-old guys, has a nice pop philosophy about living in the moment, and thinks he has it all figured out. But he knows nothing,” Ponsoldt says. “And then he meets this girl who’s a little socially awkward, but she’s so much more profoundly mature and soulful than he is.”