Jan 21, 2015

Review: Stuck in Love (2012)

Stuck in Love is Josh Boone's directorial debut before going on to direct mega teen romance hit The Fault in Our Stars. SiL was a much more muted affair, despite a loaded cast of relatively well-known  Hollywood actors. It had a limited release in the United States and never got much farther than that. Still, Boone was pretty lucky to be working with a group of actors like this for a first movie that he even wrote the script for.

One thing I noticed is that Josh Boone seems to be quite the literary guy. The family in SiL are all writers and there's of course lots of talk about books. Although it's an adaptation, The Fault in Our Stars included as one of its main plot points this invented for the screen novel that Shailene Woodley constantly read. When the opportunity to meet the writer of the book presents itself, she's of course ecstatic.Will Boone's next film Lisey's Story have literature as part of the story as well?

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Genre: comedy, drama, romance
Directed by: Josh Boone
Produced by: Judy Cairo, Eric Brenner, Patrick W. Dugan, etc.
Written by: Josh Boone
Music by: Mike Mogis, Nate Walcott
Running time: 97 minutes
Production company: Informant Media, MICA Entertainment
Distributed by: Millennium Entertainment, Entertainment One, Becker Film Group, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: $977,671 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Collins, Nat Wolff, Kristen Bell, Logan Lerman, Liana Liberato, Michael Goodwin, Rusty Joiner, Spencer Breslin, Patrick Schwarzenegger, David Carzell, Barbara Weetman, Alex ter Avest, Zeeko Zaki, Nate Panning, Katie Garfield, Glen Powell

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Synopsis


The members of the Borgens all struggle with love in their own way. Writer Bill Borgens' (Greg Kinnear) wife (Jennifer Connelly) left him two years ago as he continues to hold onto the hope that she'll come back to him. As a result, Samantha (Lily Collins) hates her mother for the pain she's inflicted on her father and avoids love at all costs, instead settling for one-night stands. The youngest of the family, Rusty (Nat Wolff) has a crush on a girl at his high school. Unfortunately he's never put himself out there and consequently has never truly experienced love before.

Review


Like I said, the cast in Stuck in Love is quite something. Greg Kinnear strikes me as one of those criminally underutilized guys so it's nice to see him get a fair shake for once. There's honestly nothing really bad to say about anyone's performance in this film. Lily Collins who I've never considered to be all that great turns in probably the best performance I've ever seen out of her. I also got to give a pat on the back those responsible for the casting in SiL. Jennifer Connelly as the mother of Lily Collins? That's just too perfect.

While I was pleased with the performances, the story itself is stuck in neutral. Stuck in Love feels like a bunch of soap opera clichés packed into an hour and a half most of the time. Plot points like drug addictions, dying mothers and corny reconciliations don't really feel all that believable to me and not even the best performances in the world could change that.

Character development also feels a bit hamstrung at times. You're really going to tell me that Rusty, who's never been part of school society can just change that on a whim from a talk with his dad about getting out there? I'm especially not a fan of the part of the story where Samantha has her change of heart. It has to do with the dying mother I mentioned above and it's just a really silly moment that feels like it belongs on the small screen.

I was also struck by how artificial the dialogue sounded at times which I suppose can be due to Josh Boone's inexperience. This especially happens with Samantha as she gives advice to her younger brother or explains to Lou (Logan Lerman) why she's so cynical about love. There are some other awkward moments when it comes to dialogue, but those moments are the worst.

With Stuck in Love being so much like a soap opera, it's no surprise that its resolutions are guilty of the same thing. With all these characters, that means quite a few resolutions that seem to go on forever. (Spoilers) Things resolve themselves a bit too nicely as well. The only exception to that is Rusty's side of the story which has turned into a life experience that enables him to get a story published in a magazine, one year after his sister got a book published. (End Spoilers

Stuck in Love is full of good performances from its talented cast. Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Collins and Nat Wolff all do a great job in their respective roles, but they're let down by Josh Boone's script. It's too obvious with how it goes about things and everything gets resolved much too cleanly by the end. All the same, the group of actors that have been assembled make Stuck in Love an agreeable way to spend 100 minutes. 


Rating


6/10