Spectacular Now, The

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Mature themes, sex scenes and coarse language

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Spectacular Now, The
  • a review of Spectacular Now, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 December 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to themes, coarse language and sex scenes)
Children aged 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Spectacular Now, The
Classification: M
Length: 95 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

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 on the front lawn of a house to find Aimee (Shailene Woodley) looking down at him. Aimee also attends the same school as Sutter and is aware of his reputation. Although she is very 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 that it’s his role in life to draw Aimee out of herself and so 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 particularly their problems. Despite his obvious flaws, Sutter has a good heart and is well meaning to all of his friends. He also idolises his absent father but eventually discovers why his mother has kept him from meeting him for so long.  This has quite a devastating impact on Sutter.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

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

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is not much violence in this movie however in one scene:

  • Sutter is angry and upset when he discovers what a no-hoper his father is and orders Aimee out of the car. She gets out of the car crying and is side-swiped by a truck. Luckily she isn’t killed but is injured and has to be taken to hospital.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Apart from the scene above, there is nothing that would particularly scare children in this age group.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Apart from the scene above (see violence), there is nothing that would particularly scare children in this age group.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

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

  • Sutter’s father is an alcoholic and obviously couldn’t care less about him. 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.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

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

Product placement


Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Sutter and Cassidy are briefly shown having sex.
  • Sutter and Aimee have sex – it’s her first time and they use a condom. No graphic nudity.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • 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, work and just about everywhere.
  • Sutter also encourages Aimee, a previous non-drinker, to drink quite a lot too.
  • A lot of drinking and smoking at parties.


Coarse language

There is a lot of coarse language in this movie, including:

  • fuck
  • mother fucking
  • bullshit
  • Goddamn
  • Jesus
  • shit
  • Oh my God
  • piss
  • screwed up

In a nutshell

The Spectacular Now is a very honest and realistic drama about teenage life and the problems faced by teens during these difficult years. It is well acted and thought provoking, although it doesn’t sufficiently address the alcohol problem of the lead character. The movie’s themes, in particular, make it better suited to older, more mature teens and parents of younger children may 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 parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • bringing out the best in others
  • standing up for yourself
  • being supportive
  • unconditional love

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, 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