If you were A24 Films you had to be a tad worried going into the opening weekend of “The Spectacular Now.” The Sundance favorite received, um, spectacular reviews (81 on Metacritic, 90% on Rotten Tomatoes), but the art house market and audience can only expand so much in the summer. “Blue Jasmine” is already a powerhouse and “Fruitvale Station” and “The Way Way Back” continue to do very strong business. Could “Spectacular” find an audience during this traditionally slow time for prestige indies? Thankfully, there was no need for concern. “Spectacular” is off to an excellent start grossing $200,000 or $50,000 per theater. And, happily, it means the great performances from Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley will not be forgotten.
Speaking to the two twentysomething actors last week I was struck by how little they have changed since I first met them on separate occasions. Teller still comes across as a jovial open book and Woodley seems to have little concern for the trappings of potential stardom. If there charismatic and warm personalities are all a charade they really are the two finest actors of their generation. In either case the duo have obvious chemistry and it’s one reason why director James Ponsoldt was able to craft awards-worthy performances from them with little to no rehearsal time.
You can check out our interview in the video embedded at the top of this post. We started discussing film festivals before the cameras rolled (I had the pleasure of attending a dinner with Woodley at Telluride for “Descendants”) and Teller immediately recalled how his grandmother almost died of pneumonia attending “Spectacular’s” premiere at Park City last January (I think the festival would prefer you keep that quiet Miles). There is some discussion about the difficult scene with Kyle Chandler’s character (amazingly, no rehearsal for any of them) and how “Spectacular’ helped Teller land his role alongside Woodley (again) in “Divergent.” Most of all, like the movie itself, you’ll come away just hoping these two keep working together again. And again.
“The Spectacular Now” is now playing in New York and Los Angeles. It expands to select cities on Aug. 9.