From Book to Screen….Sizzle or Scream? —The Spectacular Now

Today, I am here to talk about the movie adaptation of Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now. Earlier in the week, I reviewed the book as part of my summer series, Summer Reading Had Me a Blast (and remember…keep following the blog for a chance to win all of my summer reads).


The creators of this trailer did it right, hitting all of the highlights from the book that fans would want to see. Though, I should have known from the footage and music choice that the film would take the narrative in a more positive direction than the novel itself. Le sigh.

What Worked:

Miles Teller. Miles Teller. Miles Teller. I have thought this kid had talent since his turn in Footloose. He is one hell of an actor, and I can’t even imagine anyone but him playing Sutter. Sutter does some insanely unlikable things within the story, a story of addiction remember, and the beauty of Tharp’s narrative is you still root for him. That’s the tragedy; that’s why you can understand Amy’s pain, and his family’s pain, etc. Because you keep wishing he would change too, knowing he won’t. And you can’t truly feel the enormity of the tragedy without falling for Sutter despite his many flaws, and that means that Teller had to pull off a hell of a difficult role. And he nailed it. Nailed it. He may not look like the Hollywood leading man, but if I had my way, he’d be in a lot more movies.

The pacing. The simplicity. The supporting cast. All worked…until the end.

What Didn’t Work:

Now, I will try to avoid spoilers here, but if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie you might want to stop now. They changed the ending. Utterly changed it. And I HATED that. One of the great things about the book was how honest it was. It didn’t sugarcoat life. It stood up and said: Guess what? You can’t save everyone. Some endings aren’t happy. Deal.

The movie…well…the movie changed that, and I think it cheapened the whole narrative and movie as a result.

Also, they took out something explaining Amy as a character. One of the few things I thought made her interesting. Otherwise, the novel is just Sutter’s story, and I don’t really care about her. By taking out the story she tells him, I was even more mad about the change at the end. Their love story, one based off of need and not anything significant in my opinion, becomes even less worthy of ruining one of the most honest narratives I have ever read.

My Verdict: Sizzled and made me scream. If you’re a fan of staying true to the book, stop before the last ten minutes. If you haven’t read the book, watch away.




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