Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) is a high school student enjoying life in the fast lane in the ‘spectacular now’. He has no interest in the future and is already an alcoholic. He wakes one morning after a drinking binge and finds himself on the front lawn of a house. A girl called Aimee (Shailene Woodley) is looking down at him. Aimee goes to the same school as Sutter and knows his reputation. Aimee is different from other girls in that she is a very natural, hardworking student who loves science fiction. Aimee and Sutter are drawn to each other.

Sutter decides to draw Aimee out of herself and overwhelms her with flattery and his ever-present hip flask. Aimee likes the attention, and somehow the two help each other confront many of their social issues and problems. Despite his obvious flaws, Sutter has a good heart. He also idolises his absent father but eventually discovers why his mother has kept them apart for so long. This has a devastating impact on Sutter.


Coming of age; alcoholism; death of a parent; absent fathers


The Spectacular Now doesn’t have much violence. In one scene, however, Sutter is angry and upset when he discovers the truth about his father. Sutter orders Aimee out of the car. She gets out crying and is side-swiped by a truck. Luckily she isn’t killed but is injured and has to be taken to hospital.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

Apart from the violent scene described above, The Spectacular Now has nothing that would particularly scare children in this age group. 

From 5-8

Apart from the violent scene described above, The Spectacular Now has nothing that would particularly scare children in this age group. 

From 8-13

There is quite a lot in The Spectacular Now that could disturb children in this age group. It’s a very gritty, realistic movie about teenage life, sex and alcohol-fuelled parties. For example:

  • Sutter’s father is an alcoholic and obviously couldn’t care less about Sutter. Aimee’s father died when she was young, and she has to work quite hard to help her mother.
  • Sutter drinks and drives on several occasions.

Over 13

Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes and themes mentioned above. 

Sexual references

None of concern 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

The Spectacular Now shows some use of substances. For example:

  • There is a lot of alcohol use in this movie. Sutter is always holding a soft drink cup into which he pours alcohol from a hip flask. He does this at school and work and almost everywhere.
  • Sutter also encourages Aimee, a previous non-drinker, to drink quite a lot too.
  • Characters drink and smoke a lot at parties. 

Nudity and sexual activity

The Spectacular Now has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • Sutter and Cassidy are briefly shown having sex.
  • Sutter and Aimee have sex. It’s her first time and they use a condom. The scene doesn’t show any graphic nudity. 

Product placement

Coca Cola is shown in The Spectacular Now

Coarse language

The Spectacular Now has a lot of coarse language. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Spectacular Now is a very honest and realistic drama about teenage life and the problems teenagers face. It is well acted and thought provoking, although it doesn’t sufficiently address the main character’s alcohol problem.

The movie’s themes make it better suited to older, more mature teenagers. If you have younger children who want to see the movie, you might also be concerned about the coarse language and sex scenes.

The main message from this movie is that living for the moment doesn’t usually take other people’s feelings into account.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • bringing out the best in others
  • standing up for yourself
  • being supportive
  • loving others unconditionally.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as:

  • the difference between living for the moment and living in the moment
  • the consequences of drinking and driving
  • the consequences of drinking too much and being irresponsible
  • sex and relationships.