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James Ponsoldt Gets Shailene Woodley Tipsey for “The Spectacular Now”

Shifting towards the more colorful item in what will undoubtedly be referred to as his “battling alcoholism trilogy”, James Ponsoldt (who is coming off a great little indie number we caught at Sundance this year in the sobering drama Smashed) used the merits of the Park City preemed film to supposedly convince Shailene Woodley (the scene stealer in Payne’s The Descendants) to remain in the toplining position she was in when the project once had Lee Toland Krieger in the driver’s seat. Variety reports that the actress joins the helmer taking over the reins for The Spectacular Now, which is being produced by Tom McNulty and Marc Shmuger’s Global Produce and Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps (Date Night).

Gist: The 2009 Black List listed screenplay (5 votes) by scribes Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber’ is an adaptation of Tim Tharp’s novel. Here’s the one line synopsis provided by the trades, but I prefer the longer book and character description below. Coming-of-age dramedy follows a teenage girl (Woodley) who convinces an alcoholic high school senior that his philosophy of living only for the moment may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

Worth Noting: Smashed which was picked up by SPC weeks after the film’s premiere will hopefully be pinned with fall festival showings (it has yet to be shown anywhere else).

Do We Care?: So we’ve got a director who has proven that he can flesh out some strong dramatic perfs and an actress who can further prove her merits with what should be her Easy A type of spotlight. What we need now is the anti-thesis of a “Stifler” type.

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually. Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster.  Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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