“The Spectacular Now”: book vs movie

Last night I finished reading “The Spectacular Now”, a novel by Tim Tharp. The reason I started reading this book was that I saw the trailer for the movie, and I discovered the movie was based on a book, so I thought: why not? I’ll just read the novel and then watch the film.

So, let’s start with the novel. I really liked it, especially the first part. I liked Sutter, the main character, I liked is attitude, I liked his personality, his negative aspects and thoughts. I probably liked him so much because he pretty much mirrored Holden Caulfield, “The Catcher in the Rye”‘s anti-hero, except that Sutter is nothing less than an alcoholic. When he meets Aimee, he thinks he needs to save her from her pushy friends and family, but really she is teaching him something about relationships and caring for someone else’s feelings before one’s own. But I guess just saying this would be very superficial of me: they help out each other: Aimee helps Sutter confront his mother and sister about his Dad, that he hadn’t seen in years, while he helps her come out of her shell (with a little help of alcohol along the way) and confront her mom with their own issues. Aimee comes out as a very sweet character, with childish dreams (she wants to work for NASA and live on a horse ranch when she grows up – I think anybody’s heard that before), but you can’t really blame her, knowing her family situation. Sutter, on the other hand, knows many people who think he is a great guy, good fun, but nobody really sticks around, even his best friend Ricky eventually starts dating a girl and kind of leaves him on his own. I think that’s one of the major problems of Sutter: he doesn’t believe anybody really loves him, and even though he offers advice and helps others when they need him, it’s like he doesn’t need anyone, or at least nobody shows real interest in him, when it’s about the important things in his life, when it’s not just about partying – except for Aimee. She goes with him to see his dad, she’s there for him when no one else his – and for that reason he has to let her go to St. Louis to go to college without him, even though he let her on to think the would go together. And that’s pretty much how the novel ends: Aimee is gone, and Sutter just says goodbye to everything.

The movie, compared to the book, was pretty disappointing. I mean, if you didn’t read the novel it comes out cute and it gives a message of hope etc etc, but that isn’t what the message of the book was. Many important parts were cut out, maybe not the important parts for the story, but for the development of Sutter’s character. One thing I didn’t like was how in the film it all had a very “already heard of that” vibe: for example his ex girlfriend (with whom he is still emotionally – not romantically – involved) goes to college with her new boyfriend to California: in the novel they go to New Mexico… So I guess for Hollywood New Mexico wasn’t glamorous enough? Another thing: in the movie Aimee is perfect, always pretty, awkward at the right point to be considered nothing short than adorable. In the novel she doesn’t exactly embarrass Sutter, but comes real close to it. Last but not least, in the novel there are a range of characters that have different body types, but in the movie all we see are beautiful skinny girls; in the book Sutter, about his ex girlfriend Cassidy, says she was “gloriously fat” and she was beautiful nonetheless; so why does Cassidy have to be skinny in the movie? And this goes for other characters in the novel as well and this is something I really cannot understand.

I think that the novel had so much more depth to it than what was showed in the movie, I guess they just could’ve done a better job.



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