In one of her first big moves after wowing critics and audience with The Descendants, Variety reports that Shailene Woodley will work with director James Ponsoldt (Smashed) on The Spectacular Now, a long-gestating adaptation of Tim Tharp‘s acclaimed coming-of-age novel. Shawn Levy‘s 21 Laps Entertainment will be producing.

Written by (500) Days of Summer scribes Michael Weber and Scott Neustadter, Spectacular follows a young girl, Aimee (Woodley), who tries to convince her friend, a high-school senior named Sutter, that an active social life isn’t enough to compensate for his developing alcoholism. It’s the kind of story a select few were able to experience in Ponsoldt‘s latest film — and, as it so happens, Woodley decided to keep the once-flagging project on her schedule after seeing Smashed herself. That’s got to mean something good, right? (Celeste and Jesse Forever director Lee Toland Krieger was, at one point, set to take the reigns.)

Ponsoldt may very well have the skill to take such material and craft something entirely human out of it — I only say “may very well” because I’ve yet to see Smashed — but I’m mainly glad to see Woodley take a part that should a) give her some dramatic room and b) probably won’t marginalize her talents, either. So long as they find the right male lead to help anchor it all, The Spectacular Now might prove to be… very good. (It’s just too easy.)

How does this pairing of director and star strike you? Have you read the original book?

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