Stuck in Love.
dir-scr Josh Boone
prd Judy Cairo
with Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Nat Wolff, Lily Collins, Logan Lerman, Liana Liberato, Kristen Bell, Rusty Joiner, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Spencer Breslin, Glen Powell, David Morris
release UK 14.Jun.13, US 5.Jul.13
12/US 1h37
Stuck in Love
Looking for inspiration: Collins and Kinnear

connelly wolff lerman
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Stuck in Love Over the course of a year, the members of a family all take warmly comical journeys into the messiness of romance. Although the film is so contrived and tidy that it's not remotely believable. As an exercise in escapism, it has a certain entertainment value, but it's essentially a wasted opportunity for both comedy and drama.

Bill (Kinnear) is a noted novelist who hasn't written anything since his divorce from Erica (Connelly). Even though she's now married to a fitness guru (Joiner), Bill has put his life on hold waiting for her return. Meanwhile, their newly published daughter Samantha (Collins) has sworn off romance, indulging in meaningless sex until she meets the persistent Lou (Lerman), who courts her the old-fashioned way. And teen son Rusty (Wolff) is coming of age, finally working up the courage to ask out his crush Kate (Liberato), even though she has a cocaine problem.

None of these plot strands are hugely believable, mainly because each feels carefully constructed by the screenwriter to convey some sort of message. Even the mindless fling Bill is having with a neighbour (Bell) has a lesson to teach us all. And it's frankly impossible to think of the rebellious artist Samantha ever falling for the achingly dull Lou, no matter how smart and adorable he is. But the screenplay insists that these things must happen. So they do.

The cast is fine, dragging some intriguing wrinkles out of their characters and helping make sure the interaction feels relatively realistic. The best scenes are between Kinnear and Connelly, who bring a brittle complexity to their broken marriage. Of the younger actors, Wolff is the most engaging simply because of the vulnerability he conveys so well on-screen.

Writer-director Boone rather overdoes the literary flourishes, having each character introduce themselves with an on-screen first line from the novel of their life. And the constant chatter about favourite books feels like a sales pitch from Amazon. These insistent writerly touches only rarely add insight, such as when Bill urges Rusty to get some life experience before he starts writing. Still, the gently observational wit draws out enough emotion to keep us loosely engaged. Even if it ultimately feels far too fictional.

cert 15 themes, language, drugs, sexuality, violence 29.May.13

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Stuck in Love Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall