Oct. 21, 2013
Stuck In Love is a sweet drama about a family of writers, each of
whom is coping with a different stage of love. Bill (Greg Kinnear) is a
divorced man who still loves his ex-wife, Erica (Jennifer Connelly), and
believes she’ll come back to him. His son, Rusty (Nat Wolff), is at the
beginning stages of love with Kate (Liana Liberato). And his daughter, Samantha
(Lily Collins), is determined to not fall in love.
The film introduces us to
the three writers in three short scenes, one after the other. The film opens
with a high school classroom scene, in which Rusty says in voice over, “I remember that it hurt – looking at her
hurt.” And that line appears on the screen. We then meet Samantha, who is
speaking to a man who is off camera, and her first words also appear on screen:
“I never enjoy anything. I’m always
waiting for whatever’s next.” And we hear the sound of someone typing those
lines on a computer. And then we’re introduced to Bill, who is sneaking around
outside his wife’s new home. He looks in through a window, sees her arguing
with her new man, and smiles. We get some voice over, and the first several
words appear on screen: “As I stood there
staring through the window into my ex-wife’s new life…”
All of this is in the
pre-credit sequence before we even know that they are writers. It’s an
interesting way to introduce them, to get a feel for what each of these
characters is about by seeing them in relation to their take on love. And to
have it as voice over, as if each of them is writing his or her life.
Interestingly, Rusty’s words are hand-written on screen, while Samantha’s and
Bill’s are typed. Bill is a published writer; Samantha is just about to get her
first book published; Rusty’s writing is still confined to his journal. So it’s
wonderful to set them up that way, and to distinguish Rusty’s writing from the
other two right from the start.
The entire cast is quite
good, but Greg Kinnear stands out as Bill, a man who really seems to tackle all
of life from a writer’s perspective, even when dealing with his children. At
one point he tells his son: “Rusty, I
don’t think you’re experiencing enough. I mean, the reason that you’re
comfortable leaving your goddamn journal here on my desk is because there’s
nothing you’re trying to hide from me in your life, and that really worries me.”
He tells Rusty to go get some experiences, because a writer is the sum of his
experiences. Clearly, he uses different parenting tactics from most folks.
He’s proud of his
daughter for getting published, but is upset that it’s not the book that he
helped her with. She started another book on her own, and it’s that one that’s
getting published. Perhaps he’s overbearing in that regard because he himself
hasn’t written anything since his wife left. In an early scene, Rusty is having
a second Thanksgiving dinner with his mom and her boyfriend. The boyfriend
remarks that he’s surprised that Samantha is getting published, and that Rusty
is still writing, because he felt their father basically forced them to be
writers (by making them keep a journal and so on). It’s a really good scene,
and a somewhat dramatic way of giving us important information.
Samantha is decidedly
cynical, particularly about love, and we learn that this is because of how she
perceived her father was treated by her mother. Of course, since she is
determined to avoid love, she meets a really nice person, Louis (Logan Lerman),
and begins to fall for him. The movie does feel a bit heavy-handed when dealing
with her storyline, as it really hammers the point home that she’s not looking
for love. As a result, she is really a jerk to Louis at first, to the point
where as an audience member I am wondering why he’s even interested in her at all.
I’d want to just smack her.
Rounding out the cast is
the wonderful Kristen Bell as Tricia, the beautiful married neighbor with whom
Bill is having something of an affair. She encourages Bill to start dating
again, telling him, “You have a mild
amount of celebrity, which is really all a writer can ask for.”
Because Bill is a writer,
and comes at life from that perspective, there was a line that really annoyed
me. When Rusty heads out to see Kate, Bill tells him, “Drive careful.” A writer would never say that, never use an
adjective when an adverb is required. Sadly, the film also gives us that tired
sequence of a man trying on various outfits while a woman critiques them.
There was one other scene
that didn’t quite fit. Early on, Rusty punches Kate’s boyfriend after he pushed
her to the floor. Then, very late in the film (with like only twenty minutes
left), that guy and one of his friends attack Rusty in a convenience store.
It’s ridiculous, because it comes months later. Wouldn’t he have attacked him
in school like the Monday after the incident? I expected the scene, but not
that late in the film. By then, we’ve completely forgotten about that
character, and no longer care about him.
The one other element
that stood out as odd for me was when Samantha tells Louis her favorite song is
“Polythene Pam,” and Louis tells her that’s a good choice. If a girl told me
that was her favorite song, I would have to question her extensively about it.
I love The Beatles (as does everyone), but “Polythene Pam”?
Of course, these are
fairly minor points. The film succeeds mainly because of its cast. Jennifer
Connelly is always good, always interesting. And there is something so likeable
about Greg Kinnear that he can allow himself to be overbearing, even nasty,
without any fear of losing the audience. We just can’t help but like the guy.
Stuck In Love was written and directed by Josh Boone. This is his
first feature film.
The DVD includes a
commentary track by writer/director Josh Boone and actor Nat Wolff. This is a
really good commentary track. Josh Boone talks about how a lot of the film is
autobiographical, that he did have a crush on a girl named Kate who had a drug
problem. And the poem that Rusty reads in front of the class is a poem that
Josh actually wrote and recited in school. He talks about getting the project
off the ground. The film was shot in twenty days for just under five million
dollars. He did a rewrite in order to get Jennifer Connelly on board.
The DVD also has “The
Making Of Stuck In Love,” featuring
interviews with Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins, Nat Wolff, Liana Liberato, Logan
Lerman, Josh Boone and producer Judy Cairo. The interviews were conducted on
set. Greg Kinnear talks about his character and working with a first-time
director. Writer/director Josh Boone talks about how he based some of his
script on his parents’ divorce and other elements from his childhood. He says
he was raised by strict Christians, and wasn’t allowed to read Stephen King as
a kid. (Stephen King’s books play a somewhat significant role in the film.)
This special feature is approximately twenty-eight minutes.
Stuck In Love was released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 8, 2013
through Millennium Entertainment.