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'Spectacular Now' Shows Value of Fathers in Teens' Lives

'Spectacular Now' Shows Value of Fathers in Teens' Lives


Hollywood productions don’t always value the role of the father in a family as social conservatives might wish.

Consider the culture war that erupted when the title character on the CBS comedy Murphy Brown had a child without a father in 1992.

The Spectacular Now, an indie film currently in select theaters, is a different matter. The film is ostensibly a teen romance between a hard-drinking charmer (Miles Teller, Footloose) and an A-student (Shailene Woodley, The Descendants) with little experience in matters of the heart.

Look closer. The main characters both suffer from the absence of fathers in their lives. Teller’s character doesn’t even know his dad (Kyle Chandler), and when the two finally meet the boy is crushed at the man he finds.

Woodley’s character lost her dad years earlier, a man unable to conquer his own demons. He never got to see his daughter grow into a smart, capable woman.

The film’s romantic story line is tender and bruised, a tale of two good people sorting out their emotional baggage. Said baggage is a direct result of their fatherless lives, an absence that follows them through every frame of the film.

Few modern screen romances are as heartfelt and raw as the one featured in The Spectacular Now, one reason film critics have rallied to the movie’s side. The drama also scores as a primer on the problems that arise when dads–for whatever reason–aren’t an integral part of their children’s lives. 

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