The Spectacular Now (2013) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • A hard-partying high school senior's philosophy on life changes when he meets the not-so-typical "nice girl."

  • Sutter Keely lives in the now. It's a good place for him. A high school senior, charming and self-possessed, he's the life of the party, loves his job at a men's clothing store, and has no plans for the future. A budding alcoholic, he's never far from his supersized, whiskey-fortified thirst-master cup. But after being dumped by his girlfriend, Sutter gets drunk and wakes up on a lawn with Aimee Finecky hovering over him. She's different: the "nice girl" who reads science fiction and doesn't have a boyfriend. While Aimee has dreams of a future, Sutter lives in the impressive delusion of a spectacular now, yet somehow, they're drawn together.

  • Charismatic, well-meaning, and the life of the party, the kind-hearted high school senior, Sutter Keely, makes great efforts to hide himself behind a carefree but ephemeral present, and a jumbo fast-food, booze-spiked soda cup. However, after a night of hard-partying and an unpleasant break-up, Sutter will wake up in a random front yard, where Aimee Finicky, his bookish and unpopular classmate, finds him during her regular newspaper-delivering route. Polar opposites, still, attracted to each other, can there be a spectacular future for Sutter and Aimee?

  • Tim Tharp's unsentimental tale of adolescent frustration comes to the screen in this comedy-drama following the story of a sociable high-school senior whose self-delusion shattered by his emerging friendship with an unpopular classmate. Sutter Keely is one of the most popular kids in his class. Outgoing and fun-loving, he's completely oblivious as to what awaits him beyond high school. Lately, however, his drinking has started to become a problem. So when Sutter's girlfriend breaks things off, he reaches for the bottle without hesitation. Awakening in the grass under the gaze of studious, practical-minded nerd Aimee Finicky, he isn't quite sure how he got into such a predicament. Over time, however, the two teens who couldn't be any more different on the surface realize they have more in common than either ever suspected.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The film opens with a high school senior, Sutter Keely(Miles Teller), in his darkened bedroom sitting at his computer composing an over-due essay required as part of a college application. The question asks him to speak of a hardship that he has faced and how he triumphed over that adversity. The answer he enters describes how his 'Idealic life as the charismatic "Life-of-the-party" teen' was upset over loosing his hot, equally popular girlfriend Cassidy. The film then flashes back through some quick scenes confirming his lampshade-on-is-head persona that explains why he is always invited to every party, but no one takes him seriously, including Cassidy.

    Sutter decides it's time for his long-time friend to "Hook-up" with a girl, and uses his ability to obtain alcohol to win the attention of two attractive fellow students, one of whom he places next to his friend before sending them off alone. Sutter returns to his car with the other, as they sit bored waiting for the boat to return, Cassidy finds them and confronts Sutter, accusing him of cheating and calls off their relationship. The mix up is clear and should be easily rectified, but at next week's party, Cassidy has already moved on to a new boyfriend who she explains has direction, is a sport star and serious student.

    Upset over the loss of Cassidy, Sutter drives off driking profusely and wakes up to find he passed out in a stranger's lawn. It is at this point that Aimee(Shailene Woodley) wakes up Sutter to check if he's alive. While she knows his name, she explains that she travels in a crowd that he has never felt any need to get to know. Aimee explains that she must return to her paper route, which he does because the funds help pay the family bills, a job her mother is too lazy to do her self. Sutter offers to drive in her car and help, a request she declines till he explains that it will help her as well as help him find his car that he was too drunk to remember where he left it.

    Aimee is happy that this popular boy is paying attention to her, and Sutter is trying to convince her that she actually is an attractive girl. Sutter falls for the ever shy Aimee, surprising some of his friends in the process. However, Sutter's partying is not helping his GPA, and he desperately tries to charm a likable math teacher into not failing him. He asks Aimee if she would be able to tutor him, and Aimee happily accepts. Aimee is slowly growing to love Sutter, but he continues to text Cassidy, lacking the same commitment Aimee has for him. However, Sutter invites her to several parties, and eventually takes her to prom, thinking he is helping her grow out of her shell. After prom Sutter and Aimee have awkward and cute love scene, and Aimee loses her virginity to Sutter.   His mother, who works double shifts as a nurse to support him and her is unwilling to take the steps to address a son who is on a path of self-destruction. She is obsessed about keeping him from attempting to contact his long lost father, a man that Sutter believes his mother wrongly cast out of the house and his life. When Sutter confronts his sister, who has married a wealthy lawyer, she reluctantly hands over the dad's phone number. With Aimee along for moral support they drive 4 hours to visit the father who smiles and says a few of the right things but clearly embodies every negative trait of Sutter. Disappointed and drunk to avoid what's haunting him, Sutter again is behind the wheel of his car, with Aimee by his side. Large quantities of whiskey and beer diminish one's ability to drive safely and his car crosses the yellow line just avoiding a deadly crash. Aimee, while shaken, is only concerned with his condition, and tells him it's okay, she still loves him. Sutter is so certain that he is unworthy of love that he demands that she get out of his car while telling her that he is no good for her. When she finally does exit, she is instantly hit by a speeding car. This results in a broken arm.

    Sutter, after seeing he could have killed Aimee, continues to think he is unworthy of love and slips deeper into the bottle and into depression. Throughout the movie he speaks of "living in the now", and this moto proves to stem from Sutter's reluctance to come to terms with his past, and inability to plan for the future.

    Aimee has a plan to go to college in Philadelphia where they can share an apartment while Sutter attends community college. On the night when Aimee is set to step on the bus to Philly, Sutter avoids her phone calls.

    It returns to the opening scene with the same essay question on the screen, only now his answer reflects the self realization that his greatest hardship has been self imposed. After realizing that he could fix what he has done, he goes to see Aimee at college, and they reunite.

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