Thursday, October 23, 2014

#Stuck: Movie Review

Stuck with characters, dialogue and comedy that all work.

#Stuck starts the morning after a one night stand for Guy (Joel David Moore) and Holly (Madeline Zima), and as one of the lines in the film points out, it’s called the morning after for a reason. Holly is stuck without a car, Guy graciously agrees to drive her back to the bar where they met, and on the way there they get stuck in traffic. The film is about their non-relationship as they are forced to spend approximately one hour in Guy’s car in LA traffic. 2014

Directed by: Stuart Acher

Screenplay by: Stuart Acher

Starring: Madeline Zima, Joel David Moore

I quite liked the premise, a romantic comedy of sorts except the night before isn’t particularly romantic, the morning after with two opposite strangers isn’t particularly romantic, but the hint of a romantic relationship hangs unspoken in the air, and it certainly is funny. Any film which constrains itself to limited time, characters and space has to be able to sell you on it with just two main characters and the dialogue.

For the most part, the dialogue is pretty good. There are times where it seems to think it’s more clever than it actually is, but it will make you laugh. The characters were similarly not wholly fleshed out, but they had their moments of appeal, charm and chemistry. Joel David Moore has a very relatable, comedic every-man presence, and naturally presents Guy as the type of guy most girls would theoretically want but very few actually want. He’s smart, but awkward and lonely. Madeline Zima very appropriately comes across as Guy’s opposite in almost every way. She has a very unique presence, not particularly relatable, but still appealing in an off-center way and her comedy comes across as more quirky. Apparently every guy wants her, but who knows what she wants.

While we are meeting Guy and Holly in the present, the film presents flashbacks to their night before. The sex scenes were shot from the point of view of the other person. That style was presumably meant to highlight the intimacy, but it was very off-putting with the extremely close-up and distorted views. But the one thing about the flashbacks that work is that each successive flashback was to an earlier time. The audience gets to know the characters better while they are even less acquainted with each other. That structure works well with character-based films.

#Stuck is very much an indie film, but the production value is extremely high. With Guy and Holly stuck in his car, the camera zooms out to a long line of cars and disgruntled drivers and then flies up to give an aerial view of a city stuck in traffic. Judging by the credits list, the aerial shots were probably accomplished by visual effects. Either way, colour me impressed.

As a romantic comedy, the film does follow the genre pretty closely. Cute enough for the girls, raunchy enough for the guys. As much as I was hoping that the ending was going to deliver something unexpected, the sweet comfort of familiarity was enough to keep the film satisfying.
Best Lesser-known of 2014

Similar Titles:

Audrey (2014) - Funny girl, annoying girl, Audrey will make you smile.

Lust for Love (2014) - Four ladies too many but one great every-man gives a comedic touch to predictable lessons on love.

Walk of Shame (2014) - A long walk of disbelief to get to some comedy, romance and feel-good acceptance.