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"The Spectacular Now"

U.S. Dramatic

***1/2 (three and a half stars)

Teen angst, a Sundance staple pretty much forever, is presented in honest and heartbreaking fashion in director James Ponsoldt's follow-up to his Sundance '12 hit "Smashed." This drama, based on a Tim Tharp novel, centers on Sutter (Miles Teller), a happy-go-lucky high-school senior whose "live in the now" philosophy covers up a lot of self-loathing and a serious alcohol problem. After getting dumped by his party-hearty girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson), Sutter strikes up a relationship with Aimee (Shailene Woodley), a science-fiction fan who's nothing like the girls Sutter usually dates. Sutter tries to play it cool, but Aimee turns out to be more challenging — and more worth the challenge — than anyone he's ever met. Ponsoldt and writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber send the story into unexpected directions (including a moment that made the entire Library Center Theatre jump as one). Teller and Woodley are outstanding in a cast that includes some powerhouse performers, including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Kyle Chandler.

- Sean P. Means

"The Spectacular Now" screens again: Sunday, 3:30 p.m., Redstone Cinema 1, Park City; Tuesday, noon, Eccles Theatre, Park City; Wednesday, 6 p.m., Tower Theatre, Salt Lake City; Friday, 5:30 p.m., Library Center Theatre, Park City.