19 January 2013 7:38 PM, PST | Thompson on Hollywood | See recent Thompson on Hollywood news »

"The Spectacular Now," James Ponsoldt's third film and follow-up to last year's Sundance special-jury-prize-winner "Smashed," is realistic but not dour, funny but not a caricature, and romantic but not sappy. The two young stars, Miles Teller ("Footloose") and Shailene Woodley ("The Descendants") sell this sweet, simple, and moving story with plenty of chemistry. They could both break out of this movie--especially if it hits--not unlike Keira Knightley in "Bend It Like Beckham" or Jennifer Lawrence in "Winter's Bone." Adapted by "(500) Days of Summer" screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weberon from Tim Tharp's novel, Ponsoldt's film again offers plenty of heavy drinking, but that's not the main focus. Teller makes his life-of-the-party character charming, sweet, and empathetic, while Woodley turns Aimee into more than the familiar nerdy wallflower trope; she's an »

- Nora Chute

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