The Spectacular Now is a rather simple drama on the face of it. High-school kid Sutter is a fun-loving guy who spends most of his time drinking, partying, and cruising around town in his car instead of focusing on his future or spending time with his family accidentally wakes up on someone else's lawn after an evening of blackout-level drinking. This isn't a drama about alcoholism, so it's not like he has a rude awakening or anything, instead Sutter wakes up to the face of the relatively plain and unassuming Aimee Finecky.
This is a movie about high-school-age young people, so this is a coming-of-age story and a story about taking responsibility, saying no to the other adults in one's life so that one can become one's own adult. Like every film about high school, The Spectacular Now is also filled with awkward, silly decisions made by people who think they know a great deal about the world, but in fact know just as little as the rest of us.
What makes James Ponsoldt's film excellent, though, is the way that it manages to eschew most of the usual clichés of this genre, the way it demonstrates just how much fun Sutter is, and the way the director deftly follows Sutter's alcoholism in a way that allows it to make sense (there were times when I thought I wish he wouldn't drink so much, but... he's so fun when he's drinking. Oh, who cares: let him drink! I want him to keep being fun.)
In any case, The Spectacular Now is just a movie about high-schoolers figuring out the world. It's not groundbreaking or life-changing, but I found it deeply moving. And in this time where most filmic ways of looking at characters are ironic or cynical or even smug, The Spectacular Now looks at its troubled central character with humanity and deep affection. I don't see that very often at the movies, and when I do, I am glad of it.